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What Are AI Agents? The Future Of Workflow Automation (Updated 2024)

October 13, 2023 25 Min Read

AI agents are the future of project management and team collaboration. And they might just be the productivity boost you need. But what are they exactly? And how do they work?

Picture this: Your team is working on a big project launch. Just when you think you are about to hit a home run and get to the grand reveal, life throws a curveball. Or a couple of those.

Dave, the project coordinator, is stuck in a lengthy meeting. Meanwhile, Lisa, the data analyst, needs some input from Dave to finalize the pricing strategy. Over in marketing, Mike is ready to craft a promotional strategy but he’s waiting for the data from Lisa to proceed.

It’s a stalemate if we ever saw one. 🤷‍♂️

Now imagine a workforce of the future where autonomous AI agents work alongside humans, collaborating, exchanging data, organizing documents, and tackling tasks behind the scenes. 🤖

All Dave needs to do is let his AI agent transcribe and send the meeting notes to Lisa. Lisa’s agent will scan the notes and push a bite-size summary to her inbox. And Mike? With his agent pulling the data from other agents, he can finalize his share and call it a day. Magic! 🪄

🤔 What Are AI Agents?

AI agents are a step up from traditional chatbots. They are designed to interact with large language models (LLMs) like GPT-4 to achieve a set of objectives mostly autonomously. Think of them as decision-making algorithms that create and prioritize tasks for AI to follow.

Some agents have the ability to selectively tap into several language models and choose the one that’s most appropriate for a given task. They can also “chain” with external tools and apps to give LLMs long-term memory, enable web searches, or perform complex computations.

And here’s the best part.

AI agents can interact with each other and “collaborate” on tasks just like humans do. Teams of agents are able to dynamically analyze tasks, pool required resources, select external tools, and share the workload depending on their unique skill sets and specialized knowledge.

But we’ll get to the technical nitty-gritty in a moment.

The question of the day is, why on earth would you need a bunch of AIs running your tasks without supervision? Well, if you’re a business owner, a team manager, or just want to work smarter and not harder, then AI agents could be your ticket to cruising above the daily grind.

⚡️ How AI Agents Will Change Team Collaboration

These days, voice assistants can do much of what agents are starting to learn. Google Assistant can find a free slot in your calendar and set up a meeting. Alexa can read out your emails while you’re getting ready in the morning. You can even ask Siri to summarize your day.

But all those tools work in a vacuum. They can’t “talk” to each other and collaborate to make your life easier. They exist and operate within the walled gardens of glorified tech ecosystems.

So, what are the alternatives?

Earlier this year, researchers at Stanford and Google attempted to answer a similar question. They placed 25 AI agents in a virtual sandbox environment and gave each a unique personality, long-term memory, and a set of goals. And then they left that digital petri dish to simmer.

The results?

The agents performed their daily chores, engaged in conversations, formed relationships, and even planned a party in the village, all without any human intervention.

A diagram representing interactions between AI agents in the "Generative Agents: Interactive Simulacra of Human Behavior" study.
The individual and collective behaviors of the agents used in the experiment are promising. They may soon pave the way to seamless human-agent and agent-agent interactions

Of course, all those interactions unfolded in a confined virtual space. But what if those agents lived inside your task or project management apps? What if they could help you prioritize tasks, assign them to team members, and give you a nudge when deadlines are creeping up?

An agent with knowledge of your brand’s voice and ethos could revolutionize campaign design and execution. It could not only help your team create stellar content in line with your brand’s identity but also predict trends and suggest best platforms for maximum reach.

The potential here isn’t just about automation. Agents can completely redefine the way get stuff done and think about work in general. They have the ability to manage mundane tasks but also offer strategic insights, streamline processes, and foster collaboration.

And that feature is just around the corner.

💪🦾 Introducing An AI Team At Your Fingertips

A world where artificial intelligence isn’t just a tool, but a partner, a teammate? 🤔

Welcome to Taskade’s vision of tomorrow, where customizable AI agents seamlessly collaborate with humans, reshaping the dynamics of the workplace. The future where AI agents work alongside humans, running in the background and enhancing productivity.

Need help with a particular aspect of your project or task? All you need to do is create a custom agent (or use one of dozens of templates) to help you out.

Here are a few examples of agent templates you can use in Taskade:

  • 🌳 Personal Agent: Create personalized task lists and daily schedules, tailoring them to individual preferences and routines.
  • 👩 Legal Agent: Get advice on legal compliance and contracts. Generate tasks related to legal research, document drafting, and more.
  • 📧 Email Agent: Automate email communications by generating email content in a variety of styles and tones tailored to your specific use case.
  • 📚 Education Agent: Plan your learning path, take a deep dive into any topic, generate lists of learning resources, and master learning techniques.
  • 🧑 Human Resources Agent: Stay on top of HR-related tasks such as employee onboarding, training schedules, and performance review preparations.
  • 📱 Social Media Agent: Generates content for your social media channels, optimize posting schedules, and increase audience engagement.
  • 🧠 Research Agent: Research any topic in seconds — discover valuable insights for scientific research, data analysis, reports, and more.
  • 📐 Workflow Agent: Design complete workflows and streamline business processes by generating tasks and process documentation.

Whether you’re a CEO navigating complex leadership challenges or a solopreneur who just wants to get work done, the Taskade’s 🤖 Custom AI Agents will give you the support you can rely on.

But this is just the first step in this revolution. Before we go any further, let’s see how agents actually work, where they are today, and most importantly, where they are going. 👇

🚀 Technical Differentiation: AI Agents Today vs. The Future

The design of most modern AI agents is rooted in a paper titled “Task-driven Autonomous Agent” published in 2022 by Yohei Nakajima, a general partner at Untapped Capital. 

The idea is simple — to create a “wrapper” that, in combination with a large language model, can create a task list, prioritize, and guide itself, or rather the LLM, through self-directed loops. All this to achieve an objective set by the user without the need for manual reprompting.

There are a few key components that make agents tick:

  • 🧠 Large Language Model (LLM): The brains of an agent, LLMs act just like your computer’s OS, but for processing language. Thanks to the power of machine learning and natural language processing, language models offer a vast knowledge of diverse subjects and excellent context comprehension, just the things you need to get work done.
  • ✅ Execution / Task Creation Agent: Similar to a CPU, the primary agent function is to figure out what needs to be done and in what order. It’s also responsible for “guiding” the LLM and “chaining it” with long-term memory and any external tools as needed.
  • 💾 Memory: An agent’s memory is a blend of your computer’s Random Access Memory (RAM) and a hard drive. This is where the agent stores data for retrieval and processing. Modern use vector databases like Pinecone or Chroma to remember task context.
  • ⚡ Additional Tools: Pairing an agent with a single LLM would be like using a PC without peripherals. Tools extend the functionality of agents by enabling web access, unlocking specialized knowledge, or combining them with multiple specialized AI models.

Some open-source agents like BabyAGI can already perform simple tasks including conducting basic market research or prototyping web pages. But just like voice assistants, most agents work in a vacuum, and combining them with existing workflows requires technical know-how.

The solution?

Fully customizable, long-running, autonomous task management seamlessly integrated with whatever tools you’re already using. AI Agents that can operate without supervision over extended periods, running in the background and “talking” to your projects and tasks.

There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s see how those agents can make an impact on your work.

🤹 Applications of AI Agents: Transforming Work One Use Case at a Time

Automating Workflows

Every project starts with diligent research, gathering information, pooling resources, analyzing risks, asking the right questions… That’s tedious work. But what if the repetitive parts of the project initiation, like gathering preliminary data, could be handed off to an AI agent? 🤔

A long-running agent working from behind the scenes could proactively set the stage for all your projects. Tasks, dependencies, deadlines, obstacles, and solutions, ready the moment you type a project title. The manual slog? History. The endless back and forths? Reduced.

AI agents will seamlessly integrate with your existing workflows and streamline them for your team’s convenience. Whether it’s improving the flow of information between departments or updating project milestones based on real-time data, the possibilities here are endless.

CEO Agent design.

Autonomous Task Management

There are a lot of tasks we would rather not do. Hours spent on data entry, sifting through endless emails, organizing files… Put up with it, or… build a team of custom, intelligent agents, each specialized in tackling a set of routine tasks, day in day out.

Burning through a load of projects every month?

Chances are there is a lot of stuff to clean up. Let an agent run in the background and do the housekeeping for you, archiving documents, chats, and tasks. It’s like inbox zero but for projects.

Onboarding new hires? Train an agent using internal onboarding materials so it can drip-feed the knowledge to new team members, answer their questions, and show the way. 

A team of friendly AIs tackling routine tasks and helping people solve problems?

Sign us up. 👍

HR Agent design.

Generating Content

How many times have you stared at a blank page, the dreaded cursor blinking back mockingly?

What if that was a thing of the past? What if AI could do the research, gather resources, create an outline, and flesh out your initial ideas before you even warm up your typing fingers? With all the pieces in place, you’d just need to embrace the muse and start typing,

Let’s take this a step further.

Why not give your custom AI agent a unique personality and a set of skills to match? Then let it lose inside your workspace, “living” in your documents, ready to provide guidance and advice.

A snarky editor with a penchant for one-liners? Done. 

A verbose novelist who knows how to churn out epic sagas? Check.

Just tweak the settings. Train your agent on documents of your choosing: be it your past masterpieces, or the works of literary giants you admire. Over time, the agent will evolve and adapt to your style and your voice. A perfect writing companion for the modern age.

Content Agent design.

Managing Social Media

Managing your online presence is challenging even with an army of PR experts watching your back. But if you’re a solopreneur or an SMB owner, things can get hectic really quickly. 

Answering questions, keeping track of analytics, replying to comments and questions, handling the occasional PR hiccup, you get the idea. An agent could help you cultivate your digital plots (think social media accounts and business websites) so you can focus on what you do best.

You can create an agent to proactively auto-draft product changelogs, outline press releases based on product changes, or auto-populate a social media content calendar with post ideas. Let AI stir the pot and humans handle the seasoning with stellar content.

Social Media Agent design.

Fetching Data and Analyzing Documents

How many hours do you spend poring over data, reading countless articles, or cross-referencing sources? Imagine if, instead of sifting through mountains of data, you could find the most relevant, curated, bite-sized insights the moment you open your computer.

Want to know what your competitors are up to?

Need to read company reports every morning?

Why not set up an agent that will distill key details and deliver bite-sized summaries to your inbox or Taskade project? Just so you have something to read to your morning coffee. ☕

Data Analyst Agent design.

🐑 AI Agents in Taskade Today and the Road Ahead

So where are we going from here? 

How to bridge the gap between what agents are today and what they can become?

Our vision is to usher in an era of autonomous, long-running AI Agents. We’re creating the AI dream team of the future, fully customizable, seamlessly integrated with existing workflows, and collaborating side-by-side with your team to maximize performance.

This is truly an exciting time, but it’s just the beginning. Here is a sneak peek at what we’re working on at Taskade and what you can expect in the coming months.

Custom AI Agents

Most AI agents require technical know-how to run. And even then, the chances of getting them to work with your existing workflow are slim. Our agent design is much simpler and fully customizable so you can control every aspect of your agents with a visual, intuitive interface.

Define your agent’s:

  • 👤 Name and avatar
  • 🎯 Objectives and goals
  • 🌟 Personality and tone
  • 🧠 Knowledge and skills
  • ⏰ Running schedule
  • ✏️ Level of access
  • and much more…

A single workspace will include multiple agents, each with a different set of tasks and rules to follow, from a diligent data analyzer to a proactive project manager. This will give you the ability to create your perfect team of digital assistants tailored to your needs.

Integrations

Agents are only as good as the tools they have at their disposal, and thanks to the upcoming Taskade API, you will be able to easily give agents access to external platforms. The API will enable thousands of apps to integrate with Taskade and communicate with your agents.

Here are a few examples:

  • 👥 HR Teams: Streamline your recruitment process in a few clicks. Assign a custom agent to post job listings on platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, or Glassdoor.
  • 🎧 Customer Success Teams: Customer queries never stop coming. Use an agent to pull support tickets from Zendesk and turn them into tasks inside your Taskade project.
  • ✍️ Marketing Teams: Got a story to tell? Let an agent handle the manual work, from drafting a complete content calendar to uploading articles to WordPress or Ghost.
  • 💰 Finance Teams: Automate invoicing in a flash. As soon as a project/task is marked complete in Taskade, set an agent to trigger the creation of an invoice in QuickBooks.
  • 🖥️ DevOps & IT Teams: Use an agent to automatically create a task inside a Taskade. project when a high-priority incident is reported in ServiceNow.

Have other integrations in mind? Let us know!

Taskade AI Research agent.
The Research Agent can browse the Internet and gather information on any topic, complete with links to original sources

Teaching Your AI Agents

The beauty of AI agents is that they can be trained to better understand the context of your projects. Taskade agents will be able to learn from online resources or any documents you upload. So you can sit back and relax when they cram for their next task. 🧠

The new generation of Taskade agents will learn from the activity within a project, delve deep into comments, and analyze project and task history. They will parse and understand a variety of file formats including DOCX, PDF, and CSV to provide more accurate and tailored responses.

The internal team knowledge combined with a dynamic web search and access to external tools will make your agent’s unique skill set. You’ll have full control over what the agent can do, whether it has access to the Internet or stays offline, and what integrations it can tap into.

Agent Ubiquity

Taskade AI is always available where you need it. It generates new projects inside your workspaces and folders, it offers guidance and advice in the AI Chat, and it acts as a personal assistant performing contextual actions and generating content on the project level. 

AI Agents will be ubiquitous, working alongside you and your team at all times:

  • 🔀 Prioritizing and assigning tasks
  • 📅 Adding due dates and tracking deadlines
  • ✅ Creating/completing tasks
  • ⏰ Scheduling projects and meetings

As you grow and develop your workflow, agents will adjust and adapt, just like regular members of your team. They will be omnipresent but working in the background so you can focus on what truly matters — creating great products and services! ⭐

🔮 The Vision for the Future of AI Agents

The promise of generative AI goes beyond routine task completion — it aims to redefine our relationship with technology. With autonomous AI systems, we’re paving the way for the workforce of the future where AI works in a synergy with human intuition.

The potential is clear: greater efficiency, less manual work, and amplified productivity. And we’re working hard to bring that future closer and help you achieve more with less effort.

Here’s a bite-sized recap of what we learned today and what’s on the horizon.

  • 🤖 Limitations of LLMs: GPT-4 and other Large Language Models are powerful, but they still need human guidance. The future is looking at autonomous AI agents.
  • 🌐 Overcoming Limitations: Existing voice assistants, although useful, operate in silos. The vision is to enable AIs to talk to each other and give them agency to get work done.
  • 🚀 AI Agents Are the Future: Modern AI agents define, prioritize, and refine tasks for large language models. They’re like an external decision-making engine for AI. 
  • 🤝 Revolutionizing Collaboration: In the near future, AI agents will collaborate with regular teams and with each other to complete tasks and manage workflows.
  • 🧪 AI Research: Studies, like the one by Stanford and Google, show that AI agents can work together. This is just a glimpse into what’s possible.

🤖 Custom AI Agents: You don’t have to learn how to code to deploy a team of AI agents. Build, train, and manage your agents the easy way.

🪄 AI Generator: Generate tailored solutions and automate complex tasks, transforming the way personal and business projects are managed.

✏️ AI Assistant: Enhance efficiency with an AI Assistant capable of handling a variety of tasks including content creation and task management.

🗂️ AI Prompt Templates Library: Access a library of AI prompts designed to leverage the capabilities of AI agents in various scenarios.

💬 AI Chat: Got stuck? Not sure where to start? Ask the AI Chat for advice on any topic, available in your workspaces and projects.

🔄 Taskade Automation: Connect agents to external apps and services, and unleash the full potential of AI-powered project management.

And much more…

Taskade AI banner.

💬 Frequently Asked Questions About GPTs and AI Agents

What are AI Agents?

AI agents are autonomous systems that use sensors to perceive their environment and apply some form of decision-making to take actions aimed at achieving specific goals. They can range from simple programs that perform routine tasks to complex learning and adaptive systems that improve over time.

What are GPTs?

GPTs are custom versions of ChatGPT that individuals or organizations can tailor for specific tasks or roles. They can combine specific instructions, additional knowledge, and a range of skills according to the creator’s needs.

Are GPTs a version of AI Agents?

Yes, GPTs are a type of AI agent. They are designed to perceive input in the form of text data, make decisions about what information is relevant, and then take action by generating appropriate text responses. GPTs use advanced machine learning techniques, particularly deep learning models known as transformers, to understand and generate human-like text, learning from a vast corpus of training data. While their perception is limited to text input, they are still considered AI agents due to their ability to autonomously process information and generate responses aligned with their training to fulfill the goal of assisting users or solving problems through conversation.

Are GPTs and AI Agents the same thing?

GPTs can be considered as ChatGPT’s version of AI agents, tailored to perform specific tasks. While they may not be as autonomous or collaborative as the broader concept of AI agents, they are a step in that direction. GPTs allow users to create custom AI tools with particular skills or knowledge bases, which is a characteristic of AI agents. However, GPTs are primarily focused on customization for individual use or sharing within a community, rather than on the autonomous, collaborative capabilities that define AI agents in a project management or team collaboration context.

Taskade AI banner.
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