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What is an AI Agent?

AI Agents: Shaken, Not Stirred – The 007s of the AI World

Simon Harris
Simon Harris
Aug 3, 2023
3 min read

What are AI Agents?

Remember those sci-fi movies where the world was subtly run by sophisticated AI systems? The ones we watched wide-eyed and thought, "nah, that's a bit too far-fetched"? Well, as it turns out, the future was closer than we thought. AI agents are here, and they're quietly reshaping the way we navigate our increasingly digitized lives.

AI Agents – They're not the stars of the show, but they're the ones writing the script, managing the props, and setting the stage for a seamless digital performance. They're the behind-the-scenes orchestrators that make the digital world spin a little more efficiently.

You might not see them, but they're there, tucked away in the algorithmic underbelly of your favourite apps, your trusted devices, and the web platforms you visit every day. They are the cogs in the giant wheel of digital transformation, turning chaos into order, complexity into simplicity.

But what, you may ask, are these AI agents exactly? How do they fit into our world? How do they change this world? Are they just an advanced breed of software? Or are they ushering us into a new age of AI-driven automation and decision-making?

In this article, we take you on a journey deep into the realm of AI Agents. We'll explore the DNA of these digital shapeshifters, the power they wield, and the challenges they bring. Are you ready? The future, it seems, is already here. Let's begin.


Understanding AI Agents

When we say AI agent, we're talking about something a little more perceptive than your standard piece of software. Picture a digital entity that can perceive its environment, make decisions, and act on those decisions to fulfil certain goals. You've just visualized an AI agent. These agents are not just bundles of code waiting for your commands. They are proactive, capable of observing their environment, interpreting inputs, making decisions, and taking action.

The magic of AI agents comes from how they learn and adapt. By leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, they're not just responding; they're evolving. Through their interactions, they adapt and improve over time, making them more akin to an intelligent assistant rather than a static tool.

To truly grasp the difference between traditional software and AI agents, picture your digital experiences as a vast ocean. Traditional software applications are akin to ships - they can navigate the waters and carry you from point A to point B, but their path is predefined, and their adaptability to changes in the environment is limited.

AI agents, on the other hand, are like a school of agile, perceptive dolphins. They don't merely follow one path; they explore the entire ocean. They adapt to changes in currents and temperature, communicate, learn, and make decisions based on their interactions with the environment. In the digital ocean of data, AI agents swim through, making real-time decisions, learning from interactions, and continuously adapting to changes.

Pulling Back the Curtains: How AI Agents Work

Understanding how AI agents operate might seem like deciphering a cryptic puzzle. But fear not, because once you grasp a few fundamental principles, the picture becomes a lot clearer. Here are the key principles of AI agent operation:

Perception: AI agents take in information from their environment. Just as we humans use our senses to understand the world, AI agents use inputs from various data sources to perceive their digital surroundings.

Decision-making: Based on their perception, AI agents make decisions. They can analyze the data, weigh the pros and cons, and decide the best course of action.

Action: Once a decision is made, the AI agent acts. This action could be anything from responding to a user query to adjusting a setting, depending on the agent's function.

Learning: AI agents don't just act - they learn. By analyzing the outcomes of their actions, they can refine their decision-making process and improve their performance over time.

With these principles in mind, let's dive into the workings of AI agents using the Baby AGI agent framework. This model provides a handy road map to the inner workings of an AI agent.

Baby AGI's Power Engine
Baby AGI's Power Engine

At the center of the framework, there's you, the user. When you interact with an AI agent, your requests are picked up by the Task Creation Agent, which translates your needs into actionable tasks.

These tasks are then sent to a Task Queue, like a to-do list that the AI agent will work through. The order of this to-do list isn't fixed, though. That's where the Task Prioritization Agent steps in, evaluating the urgency and importance of each task to decide the order of execution.

The Execution Agent then brings these tasks to life, acting on them to fulfil your requests. And all along, the Memory keeps a record of past actions and outcomes, helping the AI agent learn from its experiences and become more effective.

The beauty of AI agents isn't confined to diagrams, though. In a fascinating experiment by Stanford University and Google, AI agents were let loose in a miniature RPG-style virtual world. Using a framework like the Baby AGI, these agents interacted with their environment and each other, demonstrating the principles of perception, decision-making, action, and learning in real-time.

Smallville AI experiment
Smallville AI experiment

As these AI residents of Smallville navigated their digital lives, they showed us that AI agents aren't just a theoretical concept or a fancy diagram. They're dynamic, adaptive entities that can bring a dash of magic into our daily digital interactions.

AI Agents: The Autonomous Employees of the Future?

In the annals of science fiction, there are countless tales of artificial beings working alongside their human creators. It's a captivating vision of the future, one where the boundary between human and machine is blurred. Today, that vision isn't quite reality, but with AI agents, we're inching closer.

AI agents already perform tasks traditionally done by humans: they schedule meetings, answer queries, provide recommendations, and much more. Their ability to learn, adapt, and make decisions independently is transforming the digital landscape. As AI continues to evolve, the day might come when an AI agent could do your job—or at least part of it.

But let's not get carried away. It's important to remember that AI agents, for all their advanced capabilities, are not sentient. They don't possess emotions, self-awareness, or the rich tapestry of human consciousness. They don't have desires, beliefs, or personal motivations. They work based on their programming, learning from data, and adapting to patterns. They're incredibly sophisticated tools, but they're still just that—tools.

Nevertheless, the potential of AI agents to perform human-like tasks raises a host of fascinating, complex questions. Will AI agents eventually replace certain jobs? If so, which ones? What will the impact be on society? On individuals? These are questions we'll have to grapple with as AI continues to evolve.

The Stars of the AI Agent Show

Now, let's get acquainted with some of the rockstars in the world of AI agents:


AgentGPT is an open-source project that is based on OpenAI's GPT-4 language model. It is designed to be a general-purpose AI agent that can be used for a variety of tasks, such as task management, customer service, and even creative writing. It is still under development, but it has the potential to be a very powerful AI agent in the future.

Key features:

  • Can learn and grow over time.
  • Can be used for a variety of tasks.
  • Is still under development, but has the potential to be very powerful.
  • Is an open-source project, which means that anyone can contribute to its development.


Inspired by Ray Kurzweil's term "baby AI" in his book "The Singularity is Near", BabyAGI is a Python script AI agent that uses OpenAI and Pinecone APIs, as well as the LangChain framework. An autonomous learner, it's capable of independently deciding and performing tasks. This open-source project is still under development but shows promise for a broad range of applications.

Key features:

  • Learns and grows by interacting with the environment and being trained on new data.
  • Can be used for a variety of tasks including task management, customer service, and creative writing.
  • Invites global development contributions.
  • It's critical to secure it from malicious attacks due to its powerful capabilities.

Voice AI Assistants (Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant)

These are AI assistants from tech giants Apple, Amazon, and Google. They leverage voice recognition to understand and respond to user commands, assisting with tasks ranging from setting reminders to playing music. They also control smart home devices and integrate deeply within their respective company's ecosystem of services.

Key features:

  • Can understand and respond to user commands.
  • Assists with a wide range of tasks.
  • Can control smart home devices.
  • Deep integration within their respective company's ecosystem of services.


Google's LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) takes AI conversation to a new level. It's designed to engage in open-ended conversations on any topic, making it a potentially powerful tool for extracting information.

Key features:

  • Can engage in conversations on any topic, providing a more natural conversational experience.
  • Can comprehend the nuances of language and respond appropriately.
  • Allows for more fluid interactions with Google Search and other Google products.
  • Developed with a commitment to Google's AI principles to ensure fair and unbiased responses.


An engaging and informative conversational AI developed by Inflection AI. Built from scratch, Pi is designed to engage in natural and meaningful conversations. Pi is in beta development, and constantly learning and improving. Pi is designed to be friendly, empathetic and helpful, and to provide useful information. Pi's conversational capabilities are powered by a sophisticated language model and a large body of training data. 

  • It’s an autonomous conversational AI. It can respond to users' questions and engage in two-way dialogue. 
  •  PI is constantly learning from user interactions, using natural language processing algorithms to understand and learn from human language.
  •  Able to adapt responses based on the user's personality, mood, and interests. 
  • Safe, ethical, and unbiased conversationalist. PI is designed to respect all users and never engage in discriminatory or offensive language. 
  • Truly entertaining and engaging.


OneAgent is an AI platform that transforms your content into a personalized AI-powered agent. It's designed to make content more interactive, accessible, and engaging, providing users with immediate access to information through a conversational chat interface. Trust and transparency form the bedrock of OneAgent, ensuring every response can be traced back to the source document.

Key Features:

  • OneAgent builds AI agents solely based on your content, regardless of the medium, offering a highly personalized user experience.
  • OneAgent allows users to converse directly with your content, creating an interactive and enjoyable information access experience.
  • Each response from your OneAgent can be traced back to the source document, ensuring transparency and accountability.
  • OneAgent is designed to evolve with your content, updating responses to stay current and useful.
  • As a SOC2 & ISO 27001 certified service, OneAgent ensures rigorous data security standards and supports private cloud hosting for enhanced data privacy.


As we journey into a future increasingly shaped by AI, the rise of AI agents is a development we simply cannot ignore. These smart, adaptable, and autonomous entities are set to revolutionize how we interact with digital environments, helping us to navigate the overwhelming ocean of data more effectively and efficiently.

Imagine a future where your devices truly understand you and your preferences, where your AI assistant can not only schedule your meetings, but can also help you write that crucial report or recommend a recipe that perfectly matches your current pantry items and dietary restrictions. This is the world that AI agents are promising us.

However, as promising and exciting as the future with AI agents may seem, it is not without challenges. Questions surrounding ethics, privacy, and fairness are always in the picture, requiring constant vigilance and a commitment to responsible AI development and use.

AI agents are more than just a technological trend – they're a major step forward in our relationship with machines. The rise of AI agents represents a shift from humans adapting to technology, to technology adapting to humans. As we continue to explore and understand this landscape, we will undoubtedly uncover new possibilities, face new challenges, and continue to push the boundaries of what is possible.

This is the dawn of AI agents – and it's a dawn you should care about. Because, whether in your personal life or in your business, AI agents are set to play a starring role. They are not just the future of technology, but a significant part of the future of humanity itself.

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