Among other workshops, I'm on the programme committee for AWeSOMe 2005 this year: The First International Workshop on Agents, Web Services and Ontologies Merging. Can't say I'm overly taken with the name, but I had no part in choosing it! I agreed to be on the PC because I do strongly believe (a) that the agent-computing model has something to offer, over and above SOA, and (b) that attempting to build business-focused agent systems today on anything other than a web-services platform is futile. Not that all is well in WS-* land either; other writers have covered in detail the current confusion of WS standards and goals. However, web services do have a strong degree of momentum, tool support, and mind-share. A goodly part of many agent toolkits is distributed-systems infrastructure: precisely the kind of capability that WS-* covers. While agent platforms may have invented some of those wheels, the SOA people have re-invented them, and better in some cases, and have better glossy brochures for their wheels. Time to accept it and move on.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that a good research topic for someone is to pick a coherent subset of the WS-* collection that addresses the needs of multiagent systems, and write it up with a view to promoting a firm architectural foundation and principles for interop. Similar to what the Web Services Interoperability Organization has done for vanilla web services. Maybe this would be one role for FIPA as it re-invents itself with its new management structure. We'll see.