From the “Eyeball” Web to the Transaction Web
The Web, as we know it, is a collection of human readable pages that are virtually unintelligible to computer programs. For that reason, it has been called the “eyeball” Web. While the Web emerged as a World Wide repository of digitized information, by and large, the very same information is not available for automatic computation. In recent years two parallel efforts emerged that have the potential of overcoming this paradox: the first effort is the Semantic Web which provides the tools for the explicit markup of the content of Web pages; the second effort is the development of Web Services which results in a Web where programs act as independent agents to become the producers and consumers of information and enable automation of business transactions.
In this talk I will focus on research that attempts to bridge the gap between the Web as we know it, the Semantic Web and Web services. Under this approach, I propose the vision of Web services as autonomous goal-directed agents which select other agents to interact with, and flexibly negotiate their interaction model, acting at times in client server mode, or at other times in peer to peer mode. The resulting Web services, that I call Autonomous Semantic Web services, utilize ontologies and semantically annotated Web pages to automate the fulfillment of tasks and transactions with other Web agents. In particular, Autonomous Semantic Web services use the Semantic Web to support capability based discovery and interoperation at run time. A first step towards this vision is the development of formal languages and inference mechanisms for representing and reasoning with core concepts of Web services. DAML-S (the Darpa Agent Markup Language for Services) is the first attempt to define such a language. I will give a brief overview of DAML-S and its relations with the Semantic Web and Web services. In addition, I will provide concrete examples of computational models of how DAML-S can be viewed as the first step in bridging the gap between the Semantic Web and current proposed industry standards for Web services. I will provide concrete examples of DAML-S in action, discuss challenges still open in the bridging between the Semantic Web and Web services and provide a roadmap to get us from today’s Web to the Web of autonomous Semantic Web services.