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Inside AGENTS: The New Open Source Framework for Building Semi-Autonomous LLM Agents
Artificial Intelligence   Latest   Machine Learning

Inside AGENTS: The New Open Source Framework for Building Semi-Autonomous LLM Agents

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Editorial Team

Author(s): Jesus Rodriguez

Originally published on Towards AI.

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Autonomous agents is one of the most popular topics in the foundation model ecosystem. The early iteration of projects such as AutoGPT or BabyAGI sparked developers' imagination about the possibilities of autonomously solving tasks using large language models(LLMs). Many researchers believe that autonomous agents are one of the next frontiers in foundation models. However, the definition of what constitutes an agent is very loose today. Recently, researchers from AIWaves Zhejiang University and ETH Zürich published a paper detailing AGENTS, a framework for the creation of LLM-powered agents.

The core idea behind AGENTS is to expand this concept beyond the confines of research circles and onto a more mainstream audience. AGENTS tries to incorporate important building blocks such as planning, memory, tool usage, multi-agent communication, and symbolic control under a single programming model. The paper comes accompanied by an open-source release, which is quite easy to use.

Let’s dive in:

The AGENTS Principles

The AGENT's framework stands out as an open-source platform tailored for language agents powered by LLMs. Its core tenet is to streamline the process of customizing, deploying, and fine-tuning language agents.

Image Credit: AGENTS Paper

Designed to be user-friendly for beginners, AGENTS is based on a series of core principles:

1. Long-short-term memory: AGENTS recognize the importance of memory in autonomous agents. While conventional machine learning models react to single inputs, autonomous agents interact continuously with environments or other agents. To address this, AGENTS has incorporated memory components, as mentioned. It boasts capabilities like storing long-term memories using VectorDB, enabling semantic searches, and updating short-term memories using a dedicated scratchpad.

2. Tool usage & Web navigation: Language agents often need to move beyond mere linguistic interactions. They need the capacity to utilize external tools and explore the internet. AGENTS provides integration with popular external APIs and an adaptable class for the addition of more tools. It further empowers agents to search and browse the web through specialized API interfaces.

3. Multi-agent communication: AGENTS isn’t just about individual agent capabilities. It ventures into the realm of multi-agent systems, useful for various domains like gaming, social experiments, and software development. An innovative feature within this realm is the “dynamic scheduling” approach. Rather than relying on static rules for agent activities, AGENTS allows for a controller agent — a “moderator” of sorts — to decide the subsequent actions of agents, keeping in mind their roles and past activities.

4. Human-agent interaction: A shortcoming in many agent frameworks is their limited scope of interaction with humans, especially in multi-agent setups. AGENTS effortlessly bridges this gap. It champions interactions between humans and agents, regardless of whether it’s a singular or multi-agent environment.

5. Controllability: Conventional frameworks often restrict agent behavior to system prompts. AGENTS introduces the concept of standard operating procedures (SOPs). These SOPs, similar to real-world applications, are thorough step-by-step guides dictating agent tasks and actions. Such detailed plans can be produced by an LLM and subsequently modified by users.

These are quite a few concepts! However, the initial implementation of AGENTS makes building intelligent agents that use these capabilities quite simple.

Programming with AGENTS

The AGENTS framework elegantly structures itself around three principal classes: Agent, SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), and Environment. These classes are conveniently initialized via a config file crafted in simple plain text. Let’s delve deeper into the architecture of AGENTS and its coding foundation.

  1. Agent Class: Serving as the essence of the AGENTS framework, the Agent class encapsulates the features and behaviors of a language agent. As visualized in Figure 1’s UML diagram, the agent manages its intricate long-short term memory. Within this class, methods enable the agent to:
  • Engage with its surroundings (agent._observe(environment))
  • Take actions based on its prevailing state (agent._act())
  • Revise its memory data (agent._update_memory()).

For a simplified experience, the above functionalities are integrated into the agent.step() method.

2. SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) Class: This class paints a broader picture, charting out the agent’s state progression. Each state in the SOP class maps to a specific sub-goal or sub-task that agents need to achieve. Every state, constructed as a ‘State’ class object, houses specialized prompts aiding the agent to harness the capabilities of an LLM. Additionally, it provides a toolkit of APIs to be utilized within that state.

3. Environment Class: Acting as the backdrop for the agents, this class offers a representation of the external conditions that agents operate within. The class primarily splits into two functional aspects:

  • The environment._observed() function illustrates the environment’s effect on the agent’s actions, outlining the transferable information upon observation.
  • The environment.update() function defines the repercussions of the agent’s actions on the environment.
def main ()
# agents is a dict of one or multiple agents .
agents = Agent . from_config ("./ config . json ")
sop = SOP. from_config ("./ config . json ")
environment = Environment . from_config ("./ config . json ")
run (agents ,sop , environment )

The AGENTS framework not only embodies the foundational principles discussed, such as tool incorporation and multi-agent communication, but it also gives prominence to the human-agent interface. Notably, by merely adjusting the “is_human” attribute in the config file to “True”, AGENTS offers the flexibility for users to step into an agent’s shoes. Such an arrangement allows for dynamic interaction between human users and other language agents within the given environment, all via a dedicated console interface.

Image Credit: AGENTS Paper

In terms of deployment, AGENTS champions FastAPI as its preferred route. Moreover, the framework is versatile enough to cater to both individual and multi-agent configurations.

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