Nowadays, we are witnessing a new electronic era (in short, e-ra!) and the development of a global information society. Recent advances in Internet technology allow us to transform the traditional notion of marketplace to "marketspace". E-commerce alters the dimensions of time, place and form for the traditional marketplace. It now emerges as a marketspace which is a virtual place of exchange between buyer and seller in cyberspace. The "virtual" part eliminates the market-friction caused by the barriers of time, geographic location, and form. No longer does a company need to have a physical presence to enter a new market. No longer are customers required to do business during normal business hours. No longer specific kinds of products and services need to be tangible, physical entities, their electronic substitutes take the form of bits travelling on the Internet. The major markets of the new e-ra are the so called business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C). Although the B2B and B2C models differ in many ways they share core functionality. They need to satisfy customer demands for easy-to-use capabilities for searching catalogues and viewing products, placing orders, reviewing orders and being notified when relevant events occur. New technologies to cope with these requirements emerged such as digital brokers. A digital broker in the B2C marketspace functions primarily as an aggregator of disparate buyers and sellers. The B2B digital broker role is to integrate business processes. Companies need to support multiple, simultaneous market models to appear in multiple, simultaneous marketspaces.
The shape of the new e-ra poses challenging demands for the whole spectrum of informatics: need for agile software to support the newly formed business processes, need to create and support knowledge management activities (acquisition, analysis, use, and preservation), need to analyse new domains, need to integrate existing business models and processes, etc. In a series of two consecutive talks we will argue for the role of AI in the new e-ra.
We will first identify and categorise the challenges posed by the e-ra and then elaborate on potential contributions of AI in facing these challenges, such as knowledge representation and inference techniques, ontologies and argumentation. A key factor is the formal representation of knowledge by means of appropriate logics, which provide methods for structuring knowledge and reasoning about it. Ontologies are concerned with agreements on representation of a particular topic of interest by a group of stipulated agents; argumentation and mediation systems can provide ways for supporting collaborative processes.
Whereas the first part of our talk will be focused on the challenges of e-ra and major contributions of AI, in the second part, next week, we will discuss in detail emerging technologies and the role of AI in them.
A collaborative resource site about the role of AI in the new e-ra can be found here.