Aroxo Intelligent Agents Negotiate For You

Aroxo provides intelligent software "agents" to help you negotiate a better price when buying goods and services on the Internet. The company's software agents act as an intermediary between buyers and sellers.

Buyers and sellers are asked questions about the transactions they desire; how much they are willing to pay, under what circumstances would they would accept less, and so on.

Rather than the fixed price model (which Aroxo points out is a relatively recent development in history), the site negotiates a different deal with every sale, matching buyers and sellers according to their stated criteria.

The agents use a series of simple rules - known as heuristics - to find the optimal price for both buyer and seller based on information provided by both parties.

"Computer agents don't get bored, they have a lot of time, and they don't get embarrassed," Professor Nick Jennings, one of the researchers behind the work, told BBC News.

"I have always thought that in an internet environment, negotiation is the way to go."

As far as I know, the first "shopping bots" were created in the late 1990's. SF writers, however, introduced the idea of a computer-mediated negotiation much earlier. In his 1965 novel The Age of the Pussyfoot, Frederik Pohl wrote about a computer system that knew you well enough to both find the job that was best for you AND negotiate the best wage you could get.

From BBC News; see also the Aroxo website.

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