We argue that the ability to model shared objects with changing local states, dynamic reconfigurability, and inherent parallelism are desirable properties of any model of concurrency. The actor model addresses these issues in a uniform framework. This paper briefly describes the concurrent programming language Act3 and the principles that have guided its development. Act3 advances the state of the art in programming languages by combining the advantages of object-oriented programming with those of functional programming. We also discuss considerations relevant to large-scale parallelism in the context of open systems, and define an abstract model which establishes the equivalence of systems defined by actor programs.