The ISAs. They Are Not Here Yet.

Writing, the printing press, industrialisation, the microchip, the internet.

There are several inventions that have sliced history at the point of creation, that changed the world so much that you can discuss civilisation has ‘before this’ and ‘after this’.

I expect ISA, Intelligent Software Agents, to be the next one in that list.

What is an ISA? For those who don’t know, an ISA is like a software butler. Not a robot you order around the house but an ethereal ghost in the machine that can follow general instructions and perform tasks for you. Basically, take a general AI and give it a couple of white gloves and a double tail jacket.

And while some of you might be thinking we have Siri and S Voice, the Google Assistant and Alexa. But these are an OK start. We are not at the goal post yet. While I might be able to tell a properly equipped smart home to set my AC to certain temperature or start my coffee maker, I can’t tell a digital assistant to sort my news.

This is my benchmark now. Can we have a software agent that sorts my news?

What do I mean: I have a news reader on my phone that scrapes certain feeds I set it too. Sometimes I read my news while doing something else, sometimes I want to focus on that, sometimes I listen to it as I walk the dog and have distractions and sometimes I listen to it on my bicycle and want something more intense.

Currently I sort it by feeds and categories which is the only way I can. And I try to number categories by rate of intensity. So I read it in ascending order and listen in descending order. But if I had a proper ISA, I could tell it to put the short Slashdot articles, the ‘list of things you should know’ articles, the articles I might be interested in the title of or the first couple of paragraphs, in the light category.  I would tell it to put the detailed, statistics heavy articles with lots of reference images in the ‘things I really need to sit down and read’ category. I would tell it to put the long analyses in the ‘listen when out and about’ category. And I would tell it to put APOD and Digital Blasphemy and articles that are just video references in the ‘check this when on a PC’ category.

But we can’t do that yet. When we could, that would be the shit!

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