Understanding AI Agents: Insights into Next-Gen Artificial Intelligence

Discover the role of AI agents in modern technology and financial services. Learn how Inscribe AI leverages advanced technologies to combat GenAI-enabled fraud and protect customers.

  • Brianna Valleskey
    Head of Marketing
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What is an AI agent, and why is it integral to modern technology? Simply put, an AI agent perceives, acts, and adapts. These agents are the brains behind automated systems, learning from data to make decisions and execute tasks. This article unpacks the various types of AI agents, the ways they impact industries, and the challenges developers face, equipping you with a comprehensive understanding of their significance in the digital landscape.

Key Takeaways

  • AI agents are integral to intelligent systems, capable of perceiving their environments and making decisions to achieve objectives without human coding interventions. This marks a democratic shift in AI accessibility across industries.
  • AI agents are categorized into reflexive, goal-oriented, utility-driven, and learning agents — each with distinct functionalities ranging from following predetermined rules to learning from experiences and improving over time.
  • The practical applications of AI agents span various industries, transforming business operations in natural language processing, robotics, and personalization systems. Ethical considerations in AI agent development are critical to ensuring privacy, mitigating bias, and facilitating responsible deployment.

What is an AI agent?

An AI agent, also known as an intelligent agent, is a computer program or system in the field of artificial intelligence. It is designed to perceive its environment, make decisions, and perform actions to achieve set objectives. These AI agents, or rational agents, form the bedrock of intelligent systems by performing principal tasks such as interacting with the environment using sensors and actuators to accomplish objectives, and enhancing communication and user interactions through natural language processing and machine learning. The agent program is a crucial component in the development of these intelligent agents.

AI agents are fundamentally driving a significant change in the creation of intelligent systems. They are redefining software creation by:

  • Removing the necessity for coding skills
  • Independently processing information
  • Executing actions
  • Establishing automated interpretability procedures

In other words, they’ve brought intelligence to the fingertips of software developers, democratizing access to AI across industries and applications.

Definition of an AI agent

Fundamentally, AI agents are designed to mimic intelligent behavior by having the ability to make decisions, perform tasks, and interact with their environment. A type of AI agent that plays a critical role in an intelligent system are reactive agents. These agents:

  • Perceive dynamic conditions in the environment
  • Take action to influence those conditions
  • Select actions according to a preference for each state
  • Improve their behavior through logical reasoning and reinforcement learning

This decision-making process is unique to reactive agents and is a key characteristic of goal-based agents.

Perceiving the environment isn’t just a feature of AI agents, but a fundamental aspect of their functionality. For model-based agents, a type of AI agent, this perception enables them to collect data and convert it into internal representations, which are essential for decision-making. Without this sensory perception, an AI agent would be akin to a car without a driver—unable to navigate or make sense of its surroundings.

The evolution of AI agents

A look at the past is often required to comprehend the present. This is true of AI agents, or software agents, which have a rich history dating back to antiquity with myths of artificial beings and culminating in 1955 with the development of the first AI program, the Logic Theorist, by Allen Newell and Herbert A. Simon. The goal of AI agents is to emulate the decision-making capabilities of a human agent, a thread that has remained constant since its inception.

Over the years, AI agents, also known as intelligent agents, have swiftly evolved from specific applications, such as game-playing bots, to intricate systems capable of intelligent automation. Key advancements include expert systems, machine learning, and artificial neural networks, propelling AI agents into an era of unprecedented possibilities and potential.

Categories of AI agents

Upon closer examination, AI agents fall into four primary categories, determined by their abilities and intelligence:

  1. Reflexive agents: These agents adhere to predetermined rules and make decisions solely based on the present circumstances, without considering the history of prior actions.
  2. Goal-oriented agents: These agents have a specific goal or objective and take actions to achieve that goal.
  3. Utility-driven agents: These agents make decisions based on a utility function, which assigns values to different outcomes or states.
  4. Learning agents: These agents are capable of learning from their experiences and improving their performance over time.

Conversely, goal-oriented AI agents:

  • Plan and execute a sequence of actions
  • Achieve specific objectives
  • Illustrate competence in autonomous decision-making scenarios
  • Necessitate achieving well-defined goals.

Utility-driven AI agents, also known as utility-based agents, determine their actions by aiming to maximize a utility function, a metric for their performance objectives. They are commonly utilized in industries such as energy, customer service, and autonomous vehicles.

The final category, learning agents, stand out due to their capacity to adjust and alter their behavior by leveraging past experiences, utilizing their learning capabilities to continuously enhance their performance over time.

Reflexive agents

Reflexive agents, including simple reflex agents, operate by making decisions solely based on the current percept, without taking into account the percept history. They respond to changes in the environment by identifying a rule that matches the current situation and then carrying out the action associated with that rule. An example of reflexive agents in action is a temperature-controlled room equipped with an automated AC system, or a Mars rover that adjusts its course to avoid obstacles based on its current perception.

While reflexive agents, including model-based reflex agents, are effective in their simplicity, they do have their limitations. They are highly dependent on the visibility of the environment and can fall into infinite loops in partially observable environments. Furthermore, they lack memory or state, meaning they can’t retain past states or actions, which can hinder their decision-making in complex or changing environments.

Goal-oriented agents

Goal-oriented AI agents operate with a sense of purpose, strategizing and implementing a series of actions to achieve precise objectives. These agents demonstrate autonomy and a capacity for decision-making, making them the epitome of rational agents. They initiate from an initial state and execute actions to attain a state that fulfills the goal. To optimize their decision-making processes, goal-oriented AI agents utilize LLMs for planning, learning, and decision-making, and adhere to the objectives programmed into the agent or acquired from the data.

The process of achieving tasks for these agents is unique. They obtain intrinsic utility upon goal fulfillment and may experience intrinsic disutility if the goal is unmet. Additionally, they are programmed to pursue their own objectives and optimize their own utility.

Utility-driven agents

Utility-driven AI agents are unique in their operational mechanism. They are designed to maximize a particular utility or decision by using a utility function. In other words, they aim to optimize their performance objectives, making decisions that maximize the outcome of a specific metric.

Utility-driven agents are commonly utilized in fields that require the optimization of resources. Industries such as energy, customer service, and autonomous vehicles often employ these agents to manage resources efficiently and make decisions that maximize beneficial outcomes through their agent function.

Learning agents

Learning agents bring a unique characteristic to the AI agent landscape—the ability to learn. Unlike other agents that operate based on pre-defined rules or objectives, learning agents have the capacity to adjust and alter their behavior by leveraging past experiences. They use their learning capabilities to continuously enhance their performance over time, essentially learning from their mistakes and successes.

Learning agents have found use in a variety of real-world scenarios, including:

  • Self-driving cars
  • Industry automation systems
  • Natural language processing
  • Robotics
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Image recognition
  • Healthcare

This broad range of applications demonstrates their versatility and effectiveness across diverse sectors.

Real-world applications of AI agents

Although comprehending the theoretical aspects of AI agents is vital, witnessing their practical applications genuinely showcases their potential. AI agents have found diverse real-world applications, including natural language processing, robotics and automation, and personalization and recommendation systems. These applications not only highlight the capabilities of AI agents but also demonstrate how they’re transforming industries and enhancing user experiences.

In the field of natural language processing, AI agents are utilized to develop virtual assistants, chatbots, autocomplete tools, and language translation systems. In robotics and automation, they control robots, automate tasks, and utilize advanced sensors and computer vision to augment the capabilities of machines. Lastly, in personalization and recommendation systems, AI agents collect user data and apply AI and machine learning methods to offer precise and customized recommendations.

Natural language processing

AI agents play a pivotal role in natural language processing by utilizing artificial intelligence techniques to comprehend and interpret human language. They are the force behind advanced applications such as chatbots, sentiment analysis, and text summarization. For instance, AI agents empower chatbots by providing the intelligence and functionalities required for the chatbot to comprehend and address user inquiries.

The process of text summarization using AI agents involves the automatic condensation of lengthy documents, papers, podcasts, and videos by identifying crucial parts of the text and compiling shortened, relevant content. This process assists in rendering large volumes of information into digestible summaries. The principal components of a natural language processing AI agent encompass natural language understanding (NLU), natural language generation (NLG), and computational linguistics.

Robotics and automation

Within robotics and automation, AI agents can:

  • Improve decision-making
  • Boost operational efficiency
  • Aid in team coordination among robots
  • Foster adaptability to environmental alterations
  • Enhance visual acuity and image recognition abilities, contributing to the improvement of the precision of robotic tasks.

Examples of AI agents in robotics and automation include virtual personal assistants, chatbots, recommendation systems, robotic process automation, autonomous vehicles, and intelligent robotic systems. Machine learning is also employed in robotics and automation through AI agents in various ways, such as employing computer vision to facilitate robots in perceiving their environment, implementing imitation learning for robots to learn tasks by emulating human actions, and utilizing artificial intelligence and deep learning to progress robotics.

Personalization and recommendation systems

Personalization and recommendation systems are another area where AI agents shine. They collect user data and apply AI and machine learning methods to provide tailored content and suggestions based on user preferences and behavior. AI in personalization involves:

  • Utilization of artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze customers’ data
  • Comprehending their preferences and behaviors
  • Providing personalized experiences, recommendations, and content.

Frequently utilized algorithms by AI agents in personalization and recommendation systems encompass Collaborative Filtering (CF) and its variants. AI agents utilize data collection and analysis techniques to understand user preferences and browsing behavior, including but not limited to search history, browsing patterns, social media interactions, and purchase history. This information is then leveraged to tailor personalized recommendations, content, and experiences for individual users.

Ethical considerations and challenges in AI agent development

The development of AI agents isn’t purely technical—elements of ethics, privacy, and responsibility are integral to the process. Ethical considerations have the potential to influence the development and implementation of AI agents by promoting responsible and ethical utilization of AI. This includes addressing issues pertaining to:

  • Privacy
  • Bias
  • Accountability
  • The potential effects on the labor force.

To ensure data privacy and security in AI agent development, it’s important to integrate end-to-end encryption and devise a thorough AI data privacy strategy that includes provider protocols and ethical standards for AI use, prioritizing data protection. Prevalent biases in the development of AI agents encompass sampling bias, algorithmic bias, and data bias. Measures to reduce their impact involve retraining models with balanced data sets, assessing various sources of bias in AI algorithms, and adhering to responsible and ethical AI development practices.

Ensuring data privacy and security

In the digital age, data privacy and security are paramount, especially when it comes to AI agent development. To secure the data in AI agents, developers must incorporate the following strategies:

  • Data anonymization
  • Encryption
  • Differential privacy
  • Access control measures

These strategies are bolstered by a zero-trust approach, secure data storage, ongoing risk assessment, and strong data governance to safeguard sensitive information.

However, the development of AI agents also brings with it certain security threats, such as:

  • Data breaches
  • Identity theft
  • Data poisoning
  • Evasion attacks
  • Confidentiality attacks

To mitigate these threats, it’s crucial to implement thorough risk management, secure development practices, and enforce policies to safeguard data privacy and prevent unauthorized access.

Mitigating bias and discrimination

Bias in AI can result in discrimination by perpetuating existing biases and prejudices present in the data used to train the AI algorithms. This can lead to unfair treatment and outcomes for certain groups, particularly in areas like recruitment. To address this, it’s important to:

  • Enhance diversity and address diversity deficits
  • Recognize proxies and eliminate protected class labels
  • Solicit feedback and examine training data
  • Participate in evidence-based discussions about potential biases in human decisions.

Fair machine learning in the context of AI agents involves the endeavor to rectify algorithmic bias in automated decision processes that rely on machine learning models. Bias in AI agents can be assessed and quantified using quantitative measures like equalized odds and statistical parity. Furthermore, bias analysis can utilize pointwise metrics and distribution metrics.

Responsible AI agent deployment

Beyond developing AI agents, deploying them responsibly is an equally important aspect to consider. Responsible AI agent deployment encompasses the ethical and transparent development and deployment of AI systems, prioritizing human well-being, fairness, and accountability for the system’s impact on the world at every stage of development.

The deployment of responsible AI agents corresponds with the development of ethical AI by ensuring that the practices used in creating and deploying AI agents are in alignment with ethical principles, legal regulations, and societal values, with the objective of minimizing potential harm and safeguarding the well-being of individuals and communities.

Crafting an AI Agent (a step-by-step guide)

Grasping the concept of AI agents is important, but the skill to create your own AI agent has the potential to present a plethora of opportunities. Creating an AI agent involves selecting the right tools and platforms, designing and programming the agent, and deploying and monitoring its performance. Among the most effective tools and platforms for developing an AI agent are ChatGPT, Claude 2, Bing AI, Jasper,, Anyword, Grammarly, Wordtune, ProWritingAid, AlphaCode, GitHub Copilot, Duet AI, GPT-4, and Bard.

Python, Java, Prolog, Lisp, and C++ are regarded as the most suitable programming languages for the development of AI agents.

Important considerations in designing an AI agent include:

  • Clearly defining the problem that the AI will address
  • Ensuring the quality of the data provided to the AI
  • Selecting the appropriate AI framework
  • Giving priority to ethical and transparent practices.

Selecting the right tools and platforms

Choosing the right tools and platforms is a pivotal step in developing a successful AI agent. When selecting a platform for the development of AI agents, it’s important to consider factors such as:

  • The range of supported machine learning algorithms
  • Workload reduction capabilities
  • System scalability
  • Quality and diversity of data sources
  • Ease of use
  • Performance
  • Compatibility
  • Community support

Some of the most effective tools for developing AI agents are ChatGPT, Claude 2, Bing AI for chatbots, Jasper,, Anyword for content creation, and Grammarly, Wordtune, ProWritingAid for grammar checkers and rewording tools. Suggested platforms for the development of scalable AI agents include Google Cloud AI Platform, Azure AI from Microsoft, IBM Watson, and Infosys. The choice of tool can also impact the compatibility of an AI agent, with varied features, APIs, and compatibility requirements of different tools influencing the AI agent’s ability to interact with and utilize those tools.

Designing and programming the AI Agent

With the appropriate tools and platforms secured, the subsequent step involves the design and programming of the AI agent. This involves:

  • Defining the narrative
  • Comprehending the concept of an agent
  • Determining the objectives
  • Selecting the appropriate AI framework and algorithms
  • Conducting comprehensive training with relevant data

It is advisable for programmers to choose model-based algorithms for the model based agent, as they are specifically designed to accurately perceive the environment, make informed decisions, and effectively carry out actions.

The development of an AI agent necessitates the integration of components such as sensors, memory, and machine learning processors to facilitate fundamental responsiveness and operation. In the case of a learning agent, the architecture should additionally encompass a learning element and a performance element.

Deploying and monitoring the AI Agent

Once the AI agent is designed and programmed, the concluding step is its deployment and monitoring. The deployment of an AI agent typically involves:

  • Setting goals
  • Aligning company functions
  • Selecting a conversational AI-building approach
  • Formulating content creation strategies
  • Ensuring the deployment’s security.

To effectively monitor the performance of AI agents, a range of AI-powered tools is employed to capture and analyze data from conversations in real time. Furthermore, the use of application performance monitoring tools, agent identifiers, and AI automation software such as is crucial to ensure optimal performance of AI agents.

AI agents and the future of work

AI agents are the driving force behind intelligent systems that are transforming industries and enhancing user experiences. Their ability to perceive their environment, make decisions, and execute actions based on predefined rules or goals makes them an invaluable asset in today’s digital world. However, the development and deployment of AI agents come with their own set of challenges and ethical considerations, which must be taken into account to ensure responsible and ethical utilization of AI. Whether you’re creating a chatbot, automating a task, or crafting a recommendation system, understanding and mastering AI agents can unlock a world of possibilities.

The challenges facing financial institutions in today's digital age are complex and ever-evolving. The emergence of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) poses a significant threat to the integrity and security of financial services. 

However, by leveraging advanced technologies like Inscribe AI, financial institutions can arm themselves with the tools needed to combat fraud and protect their customers. Using deep learning and the latest advancements in LLMs, Inscribe AI offers a comprehensive solution to the challenges posed by GenAI.

Reach out to request a demo and learn more about combatting GenAI-enabled fraud with Inscribe AI. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an AI agent do?

An AI agent is designed to perceive its environment and take actions to achieve specific goals using artificial intelligence techniques.

What is a GPT agent?

A GPT agent, also known as a Generative Pre-trained Transformer agent, can be designed as a chatbot or AI assistant for various purposes, such as customer support, sales assistance, and education. These agents are becoming increasingly popular across different sectors.

Which is the best AI agent?

The best AI agent is BRAIN Assistant, which offers real-time internet results, supports multiple languages, and prioritizes privacy and security. It allows users to upload various types of data and is available for free.

Is a human an AI agent?

No, a human being is considered an example of an intelligent agent, but not an AI agent. It meets the definition of an intelligent agent, not an AI agent.

What is the role of AI agents in intelligent systems?

AI agents play a fundamental role in intelligent systems as they interact with the environment, using sensors and actuators to achieve goals, while also improving communication and user interactions through natural language processing and machine learning.

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