Ender’s Jane

“And with all that vast activity, her unimaginable speed, the breadth and depth of her experience, fully half of the top ten levels of her attention were always, always devoted to what came in through the jewel in Ender Wiggin’s ear.” – Orson Scott Card, The Speaker for the Dead

Just heard Marissa Mayer, CEO at Yahoo! say something on an @BloombergNews interview that I have been thinking about lately.  Marissa thinks there is a real opportunity for technology companies in helping to guide peoples habits by learning from what they are doing on the internet.  All of your normal internet activities such as mail, reading websites, posting pictures, engaging in social media, blaze a trail of information about you that write a story.  If technology can start considering future paths, then your choices in life could become easier and more likely to lead to happiness, fulfillment and less stress.

In the famous science fiction book series by Orson Scott Card, the hero Ender Wiggins has a device called a jewel in his ear through which he is in constant contact with Jane, a highly intelligent super computer.  Jane is connected to an ubiquitous network called the ansible that has access to, well basically she has access to everything.  Card introduced the world to Jane in 1986 by the way, well before our semi-ubiquitous wireless internet.  This seems like the next step for technology and social media to start making our life easier.  Google Glass is one of those extensions in to our life, one I am looking forward to.  In the future we will have a Jane and she’ll focus her vast speed and breadth of experience on helping us.  Social media is a stepping stone down this path because by making us all micro-bloggers we are now putting the type of information in the public space that this type of technology must have in order to simulate intelligence.  Combining social media data with personal tracking information is now possible.  Facebook, Twitter, Fitbit and a GPS connection could merge to tell Jane much of what she needs to know to select your clothes and buy new ones on the internet.  With health monitoring she could know you are sick before you feel the symptoms or sense when you are exposed to invisible threats.  The possibilities are enormous and can’t begin soon enough.