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Business Week (2/14) has an article on software agents, a term covering diverse approaches to automation and interaction. The new commercial generation seems very similar to macro processors (e.g., QuicKeys for Macs) that capture your actions as editable scripts. One agent does the work of 20 administrators in distributing and collecting wage-review information for 13,000 salespeople under 1,200 managers. However, such agents are easily confused by unexpected conditions. [John W. Verity.]

General Magic's Telescript agents are programs that can be handed off from one Telescript "place" or "engine" to another. (Places are themselves Telescript programs.) Only the interpreters can manipulate memory, not the scripts themselves. Each agent includes an encrypted owner/authority code and class, plus a "permit" that limits its lifetime, size, resources, and capabilities (including the ability to move to another place). Each Telescript engine can impose or negotiate further limits, and is responsible for deleting expired agents. Agents may themselves check the identities and capabilities of other agents with which they interact. [Luis Valente (, comp.risks. DAI-List, 2/11/94.]