Designing trust with software agents: A case study

Date01 February 2006
Published date01 February 2006
AuthorStijn Bernaer,Martin Meganck,Greet Vanden Berghe,Patrick De Causmaecker
Subject MatterInformation & knowledge management
Designing trust with software agents
A case study
Secure interchange of information can nowadays be
supported by well known and well understood
software components. Familiar solutions include
digital signatures, encryption and hashing. When
two parties, unknown to each other, want to safe-
guard privacy and trust in their communication and
transactions, we enter into a more abstract level of
security. A trusted third party, if there is one, can
support the communication in this case. It mimics
real world situations. An even bigger challenge is to
build trust and privacy into a software system that
lacks trusted third parties. In this case, software
agents can bridge the gap between existing security
technology and the user requirements. The chal-
lenge then is to incorporate two levels of trust:
Trust questions which exist in the real world have
to be modelled in the software agents, and the sys-
tem in itself must show trustworthiness to the
involved parties.
In this paper we intend to reflect upon these trust
questions. After a presentation of software agent
technology as a further development of computer
Info, Comm & Ethics in Society (2006) 1: 37-48
© 2006 Troubador Publishing Ltd.
Stijn Bernaer, Martin Meganck and Greet Vanden Berghe
KaHo St.-Lieven, Department of Industrial Engineering, Gebr. Desmetstraat 1, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Email: {stijn.bernaer,martin.meganck,greet.vandenberghe}
Patrick De Causmaecker
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Campus Kortrijk, Computer Science and Information Technology,
E. Sabbelaan 53, 8500 Kortrijk, Belgium
In this paper, we will address privacy and trust issues that arise in more advanced software systems. Though a lot of
information is currently available in electronic form, not all of it should widely be accessible to everybody. The involved
parties need full control on how their data are used and who has access. If the system consists of autonomous software
agents, this problem requires extra attention and new working principles. We illustrate this in the case of a communi-
cation platform for multimodal transport. The major aim of the communication platform is to enhance exchanging infor-
mation and to ultimately improve organisation/collaboration within the transport sector. A better informed view of the
transport sector will facilitate better considered decisions for users of the communication platform. The software sys-
tem merits credibility by accurately modelling all the relevant real world interactions of potential users of the system.
We opted for a connectivity solution in which software agents act as representatives of the parties involved. All agents
can be equipped with human-like skills and qualities such as intelligence, autonomy, and the ability to cooperate, coor-
dinate and negotiate. We demonstrate how cooperation between parties can be achieved while respecting their sensi-
tivity concerning information.
Keywords: privacy, trust, software agents
VOL 4 NO 1 JANUARY 2006 37

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT