My old colleague Mark Sullivan talked to Apple legend Bill Atkinson about how voice interfaces in our ears are the future of human-computer interaction:
Bill Atkinson points to Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game series from the 1980s, in which an artificial sentience called “Jane” lives in a crystal planted in the ear of the main character, Ender. Jane can do millions of computations per second and is aware and responsive on millions of levels. She’s hesitant to make herself known to humans because she’s painfully aware of the dangerous feelings of inferiority she may awaken in them. Pretty brilliant stuff.
Siri is headed for something like Jane, eventually, Atkinson says. “I think of this as Jane 0.1,” Atkinson says. “Within a few years it’s going to be able to do lots of things: It will hear everything you hear, it’s going to be able to whisper in your ear.”
(Bonus points for the reference to Jane from “Speaker for the Dead“.)
I vividly remember Atkinson giving his presentation at Macworld Expo in 2011 about the future of user interfaces and how he described in great detail how we’d one day put in an earpiece that could talk to us, listen to us, and look at the world around us—and how that would be how the global Internet interacted with us on a moment-to-moment basis. With every passing day his description of that technology seems more accurate.
—Linked by Jason Snell