Communion Of Dreams

Meet Seth’s great-x17-grandmother.

[This post contains mild spoilers about Communion of Dreams.]

One of the main characters from my novel is Seth – an advanced expert system who functions as the personal assistant for the primary character.  I’ve written about him here before, and how I see this sort of “expert” developing over time.  My basic premise is that it will evolve out of simpler, independent computer programs which are brought together to create an easier and more comprehensive user interface.

Well, via this morning’s Weekend Edition, Microsoft has just come out with the first real step in this process:

Microsoft’s Laura will rule your Outlook calendar, nightmares

Back in Office 97, Microsoft wowed us with Clippy, the talking paperclip that made Word tasks far more annoying than necessary. By Office 2007 he was finally out of a job, but his spirit lives on in Laura, an oddly creepy virtual digital assistant shown off as part of Microsoft’s vision for the future (video of an earlier demo is below). She’s said to be able to schedule reservations, make appointments, and maybe even get you tickets for the first Watchmen showing tonight — much the same as the company’s EVA assistant, but not in a car and not as hot. She can judge you based on what type of clothing you’re wearing and even tell if you’re engaged in a conversation, perhaps keeping the doors on an elevator open while you chat with someone getting off, thus further annoying every other person on board.

Here’s the vid:

OK, about the title – what the hell is that supposed to mean?  Well, in the book I explain.  So go read the book.

Yeah, yeah, here’s the summation: Seth is an “S-series” expert, the latest iteration of such an artificial personal assistant, based on the most advanced type of computer.  Chances are, there is some skipping around during the periods of chaos that I stipulate for my future history, and one can never account for advertising hype, but the basic idea is that the experts were named on the basis of the alphabet.   Hence, he is the 19th generation of such a development.  Now, being the first such artificial personal assistant, Laura should actually be named Anne or something that starts with an “A”.  But Microsoft didn’t bother to ask me about it beforehand.  Figures.

Jim Downey

3 Comments so far
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Yeh, Laura’s pretty creepy, all right. I’m sure they’ll get that smoothed out though, until someone hacks her and infects her with facial tics or sneezing fits, or Tourette’s — or, maybe she’ll just develop those without being hacked.

Of course, even worse things could happen . . . remember HAL 9000?

Comment by Curtis

Let me put it this way, Curtis. The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error. Of course I remember HAL.

JIM 9000

Comment by James Downey

Uh huh. And how’s Dave doing lately?

Comment by Curtis

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