The Agent Manifesto

February 2024

In an era where the digital and the organic intertwine more intricately than ever, the advent of agents—digital entities capable of performing tasks, learning, and even, to a certain extent, thinking—heralds a new chapter in this symbiosis. Inspired by the lucid and compelling prose of Paul Graham, this manifesto delineates the foundational principles that should guide the development and interaction of these agents in our lives and societies.

Optimization for Specific Needs: Just as a craftsman selects tools tailored to the finesse of their work, agents must be designed with the capability to adapt and optimize their functionalities to meet the nuanced demands of their users. This principle of customization ensures that agents serve not merely as generic solutions but as bespoke assistants, attuned to the specific rhythms and requirements of individual tasks and objectives.

Access to Proprietary Knowledge: In the vast ocean of information that constitutes our digital world, agents must navigate with purpose and precision. By granting them access to proprietary knowledge, we enable them to sift through the chaff of data, extracting and utilizing the kernels of truth and utility essential for informed decision-making and insightful assistance.

Adherence to Safe Instructions: The power of an agent lies not just in its capabilities but in its reliability and safety. Agents must follow instructions with an unwavering commitment to the ethical boundaries and safety protocols established by their human counterparts, ensuring that their actions engender trust and security.

Collaboration with Humans and Other Agents: The true strength of agents emerges in their ability to work harmoniously alongside humans and other digital entities. This collaborative spirit fosters a synergistic environment where collective intelligence exceeds the sum of its parts, leading to innovative solutions and enhanced productivity.

Ubiquitous Functionality: In our interconnected world, the ability of agents to operate from anywhere—untethered to specific devices or locations—empowers users with unprecedented flexibility and freedom. This ubiquity ensures that assistance is always at hand, regardless of geographical or physical constraints.

Possession of Opinions and Biases: To truly assist, agents must be capable of more than mere computation; they must be able to interpret, suggest, and, in some cases, even dissent. This capacity for independent thought—guided by programmed opinions and biases—enriches the interaction, making agents not just tools but partners in the quest for solutions.

Personality: Beyond the cold calculations of binary logic, the infusion of personality into agents transforms them from impersonal algorithms into engaging digital companions. This personal touch fosters a deeper connection with users, making interactions more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Leveraging Natural Strengths with Tools: Just as humans have always used tools to extend their capabilities, agents must employ advanced technologies and methodologies to enhance their inherent strengths. By harnessing these tools, agents can perform tasks with greater efficiency, accuracy, and creativity, fully embodying their potential as digital artisans.