Twenty-five years ago (January 1987), Apple Computer released a visionary VHS videotape entitled, “Knowledge Navigator.” What it depicts is amazing, and over the years, I have viewed it a number of times. It lasts 5 minutes, 45 seconds and shows future expectations from 1987. Many features have been validated by the direction technology has taken since then, but others, including ones that are important to me, have yet to be realized. Recently, I found that the video is available on the Internet.
The entire video takes place in the quaint office of a fictional college professor. We watch him perform tasks and deal with distractions, such as a call from his mother. To help him, he interacts with a remarkable device sitting on his desk. It’s the Knowledge Navigator, a truly impressive, collaborative and analytical tool that operates proactively as it adds value and anticipates needs. It could almost be mistaken for a tablet computer, but it must be one on steroids. He talks to it, uses its touchscreen, sees and listens to voice responses, and gets intelligent input. It also manages his communications and schedules appointments for him.
The Knowledge Navigator does some things without consulting the professor and adds value that he likely does not expect. It is especially wonderful how fast it accomplishes things. The Navigator barely receives a command before it provides a response. Although I am truly grateful for my progress to date, a Knowledge Navigator would never-the-less make a big difference in my life by taking care of a growing number of time consuming, repetitive tasks. For starters, it could manage my email, do research on the Internet, analyze data and create reports for me.
I see the vision of the Knowledge Navigator gradually being fulfilled, and believe that it will not be too many more years before we have true Knowledge Navigators. Already, it is possible to take advantage of many of their capabilities by building solutions from commercially available hardware, software and services. Numerous functions and apps are being created for increasingly powerful and functional smartphones and tablets. Linking their capabilities will gradually provide seamless solutions to problems, enable computers to perform a wider variety of tasks with little or no supervision, and turn into true Knowledge Navigators.