chalst, well, unfortunately I am not a specialist in agent-based programming. What I've read from experts is that there is no consensus in the field except perhaps in a common denominator. If you liked to read a bit more about it there is a course in slides by Michael Wooldridge here.
In the conference I attended there were people from the industry. My impression was that they were serious about it. I mean, they saw this paradigm as a way to understand some problems better. And they applied it in real applications. It is just an abstraction, nothing magic. It helps in thinking the problem and build a solution when the problem fits the paradigm. Well, that's what I've seen, but let me insist those are impressions of an outsider.
In a panel discussion at the end it was recognized that unfortunately the term is a buzzword sometimes and that hurts the field.