Thursday, January 16, 2014

Has the Knowledge Navigator Come True with Siri or Her?

Way Way Way back in the late 80s, Apple had a vision for computing called the Knowledge Navigator.  This dream had a certain 2001 Space Odyssey HAL aspect to it because you, the user could hold a discussion with your computer as it helped you solve your problems.

I was watching an old 12-minute Apple video called the Knowledge Navigator (1987) where a professor is working with his DynaBook to plan his day. (The DynaBook is a laptop conceived by Alan Kay in 1968.) Wouldn't it be wonderful to have this type of interaction with your computer?




Did you notice that the professor said that the article he needed was 5 years old?  When his DynaBook found it, it turned out that that article was written in 2006.  Add 5 years to that and you get 2011. That's not very far away from today. Are we actually living that today?

I have been exploring the many faces of Siri on my iPhone. I have been amazed about how I can ask Siri to set an alarm, search for a recipe, add an expense to a specific note, make a call to my wife, but I was BLOWN AWAY by some of the options I found when researching this post.  Here are some of the requests you can ask of Siri: (Found these at Imgur.com)
  • Show me the roster for the Giants
  • Did the University of Northern Iowa win last night?
  • What does the rest of my day look like?
  • Where is my next meeting?
  • Move my 3:00 meeting to 4:30
  • Tell my wife I'll be right there.
  • Open Facebook
The one that really knocked me on my ear was when I said "Phone my wife, Kathy Klink-Zeitz." Before Siri made the call, she said "So Kathy Klink-Zeitz is your wife?  I will make a note of that." Ever since, I don't need to mention Kathy's name.  Just need to say "Phone my wife."

This is VERY close to what we saw the professor doing in his office in the video above.

I just saw the movie, "Her", where a whole operating system is blessed with artificial intelligence and a specific human (Theodore) falls in love with his computer because she (Samantha) is listening to everything he is saying and responding.  Is this our destined future?  How will education be affected by such a system?

Imagine an interactive system that would listen to the voice of learners and provide learning opportunities (notice that I didn't say "Instructional Programs" because it can be SOOOO much more) that will fit our learners' needs.  This doesn't mean that these systems would give the answers.  It just means that it could provide additional challenges and scaffolding as necessary.

What do you think?  Where is this all going?  

Have we achieved the Knowledge Navigator level or is there far to go from here?

Z





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