What is a Kempelen Box?

A Kempelen Box is a database structure that is placed onto the Web to hold information carrying agents. It allows the contents of the agent memories to be accessed and compared directly by visitors to a Web site, without having to go through a database.

Although it looks quite simple, it is in fact a sophisticated component of a complex, self-evolving system. The link 'Kempelen Box', in the top menu, provides a more detail description of its design and the link 'SOE project' provides an explanation as to how these boxes fit into a wider system framework.

The Kempelen Box Metaphor

The data base structure that holds the agents has been given the name "Kempelen Box" after the 18th century chess playing machine. This was a hoax that contained a man hidden inside. A twist to this theme sees the agents on a stigmergic web site as being people inside a box. The importance of putting all the agents in a box is that this box can be treated as an entity in its own right, with the agents being selectively chosen through an evolutionary process. This allows the aggregate information provided by [the agents in] the box to continuously improve.