Not A Bad Effort

I’ve got a cell phone, a pocket organiser, a beeper, a calculator, a digital camera, a pocket tape recorder, a music player, and somewhere around here, I used to have a colour television.

Sometime in the next few years, all of those devices are going to meld into one. It will be a box less than an inch thick and smaller than a deck of cards. (The size will be determined by what’s convenient to hold, not by the technology inside).

The box will have a high-res colour screen, a microphone, a plug for a headset or earphones, a camera lens, wireless connectivity, cell phone and beeper functions, a television and radio receiver, a digital recorder, and it will have enough processing power and memory to function as a desktop system. It will be able to dock with a keyboard and full size monitor. Oh yes, and it will handle email as well.

Most important of all, it will have both speech recognition and speech synthesis. It will listen and respond in English or whatever language you need, and yes it will be a translator too. It will be an agent, going out and doing cyber errands for you. For instance, I need a Japanese restart in Tulsa, near the Ramada Inn. Book a reservation and arrange transportation.

If there’s no Japanese restaurant, try for Italian. Or voicemail Bob as follows: Bob, we accept your offer, but we’ll need a draft of the deal memo by the 15th. Let me know if that’s a problem.’

I call this device a Personal Information Telecommunications Agent, or Pita for short. The acronym also can stand for Pain in the Ass, which it is equally likely to be, because having all that connectivity is going to destroy what’s left of everyone’s privacy. |

David Gerrold 1999


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