The answer is yes, and not only that: they can also evaluate what will be the most successful strategy for conflict resolution, including re-formulating their action, or evading confrontation. Argument is used by computer agents only as the last resort.

The effectiveness of argumentation-based negotiation (ABN) for computer agents operating in multi-agent systems is assessed in a new paper co-authored by Professor Nick Jennings of the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. Professor Jennings will be presenting the paper next week in New York, at AAMAS 2004, one of the largest conferences in the world of computer research.

Agents are autonomous computer systems increasingly used in a wide range of industrial and commercial domains, including robotics, e-commerce, computer games, and information retrieval. They are regarded as one of the most significant new technologies in computer science–not only a promising new technology, but also a new way of thinking, fundamental to the successful development of the next generation of distributed, open and dynamic computer systems.

More here.