Remember how you used to go down to the video rental store and rent a movie? Oh. You still do that? You won't for long. Why not? Actually the answer to why not isn't as interesting as the reason why I am discussing this issue here. I can't say that I really care about how movies are rented, but I do care about the related technology that will profoundly affect that business as well as many others.
Little by little we are creating in our lab a world that will impact profoundly on every home. Let me explain. Suppose you want to take a trip to France. To get help, you can ask a travel agent, who will show you brochures of hotels and offer to put you on a tour. Or you could ask friends who have been there who will make suggestions, or perhaps show you the slides they took there. Or you can buy a book or two about sightseeing in France, restaurants in France, churches in France, whatever. In the world we are creating, you will have to do none of that.
Just to help you think about this, imagine Road Trip, Dustin, ASK systems, and Movie Reader. Each of these programs could be adapted to help you plan a trip to France. Road Trip could allow you to take a simulated trip around France, seeing for yourself what there is to see there. At any point where you desired more information, you could enter an ASK system. Let's say you were in Champagne and decided it looked pleasant there. You looked around the town of Reims, visited a winery and saw them make champagne and have decided to find out more. You want to see the hotels in the area, ask about the history of how champagne came to be made in this region, and want to understand if aged champagne is worth drinking. A well-constructed ASK system, connected to Reims in Road Trip, makes itself available to you and you easily find your answers. You now ask to talk to the simulated travel agent. You ask questions, and a video talking head supplies the answers. You book the trip by conversing with the simulated agent.
Now you are thinking that you'll need to know some French to help your trip go smoothly. You use Dustin in a variety of situations, restaurants, hotels, wineries, clothing stores, that you anticipate you will be in. You practice with Dustin until you feel confident. Next, you are ready to watch French movies. You ask the movie expert, who after some discussion with you about your taste and language ability, puts a movie on the screen that has been adapted by Movie Reader to highlight difficult expressions and to explain things when you are confused.
Examples of each of these programs already exist, though they are not targeted to taking a trip to France. Making this exercise in trip-planning real is therefore a matter of extending what has already been done. It might be a lot of work, but the path has been laid out.
Where am I in the content of the book?