My dumb computer

It is 2006, and I should have a computer that I can talk to.  “Computer, what is my schedule for today?”.  “Computer, are their any birthday’s that are coming up?  Can you recommend some gifts?  Ok, buy those gifts?” 

 Why can’t we just tell computers what we want?  Ask a computer scientist this, an you will begin a conversation about how voices and speech patterns are different.  Every person pronounces even the simipliest phrases in very different ways in terms of pitch, intonation, timing, accent, and the like.  I understand all that, and I could do without actually speaking to the computer.  I would be happy just IMing the computer to get the information I need. 

 Indeed, there is a program that is like this called SmarterChild. However, this program does not take into account all the information that a computer should know.  It is a IM interface to online information and information that you choose to share with it.  But everyday we get emails, browse webpages, type IM messages, read news groups, read/write documents, and many other things online.  Yet even after years of passing these messages through the computer, it is no smarter and can not help me any more than the day I got it.  The computer is not expected to learn, but the computer user is.  The computer user is supposed to create rules to sort and mark emails.  The computer user is to bookmark pages of interests.  The computer user is supposed to keep track of what and where and from whom information comes, and keep track of what is sent out.

Why can’t the computer actually look at all these documents and start building up a knowledge base that could actually help me?  Why can’t it detect the relationship between myself and others by the information that I send and receive, the sites I view, the people I chat with?

I think this is a area where there is much “low hanging fruit” for the computer industry.  Can you imagine a computer that actually “learned” from you interacting with it?  Why we can’t even get a computer that can manage its own filesystem, so maybe I dream too much?

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