The Siri virtual assistant program lets you speak into your iPhone to ask for assistance with such matters as finding a restaurant, looking for a movie with convenient times and location, ordering a taxi or finding the phone number for a business.
Take a look at this short descriptive Siri video:
(Siri virtual assistant like Pohl's joymaker video)
Siri is really very close to what Frederik Pohl was talking about when he described the joymaker in his 1965 novel The Age of the Pussyfoot:
The principle of it was clear enough. It was a remote input-output station for a shared-time computer program, with certain attachments that functioned as pocket flask, first-aid kit, cosmetics bag, and so on. It looked something like a mace or a jester's scepter.
The remote-access computer transponder called the "joymaker" is your most valuable single possession in your new life. If you can imagine a combination of telephone, credit card, alarm clock, pocket bar, reference library, and full-time secretary, you will have sketched some of the functions provided by your joymaker.
Essentially, it is a transponder connecting you with the central computing facilities of the city in which you reside on a shared-time, self-programming basis.
"Self-programming" means that the programmed software includes procedures for translating most normal variations of voice, idiom, accent, and other variable modalities into a computer-oriented sim-script and thence into the mathematical expressions on which the computers operate.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/5/2010)