AI-Portal Artificial Intelligence for Enthusiasts
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What is an agent? A primary definition would say that an agent is an autonomous software program that can take decisions based on the given inputs.
This means that an agent has a somewhat "intelligence". This intelligence is disputed, however. In nature, a system also takes actions according to given stimuli. According to the 3rd classical mechanic law, if one applies a force to a system, the system responds with an equal force back. This is a specific law of a more general idea: any system that is disturbed from its current balance responds in order to get the balance back.
In the same idea, a reactive agent is an agent that waits for environment changes. The agent gets the input and then, using a rule based system or any other possible implementation, picks an action that it must take.
A proactive agent is an agent that takes an action independent on environment changes, e.g. it takes initiative in the system.