Multi-device Hardware, Uni-device Software

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Apple Siri

My wife gets up early for work each day, 4:30am early. She uses her iPhone as an alarm clock and every night she checks to make sure the alarm is turned on for the next morning. Obviously it isn’t something she needs to do, the alarm is set to go off every weekday morning at 4:30am, but it makes her more confident about it to check it.

Last night, she was on her iPad and decided to ask Siri if the alarm was set for tomorrow. Of course Siri responded that she has no alarms set since she is on her iPad and the alarm she has set is on her iPhone. This was like a light bulb turning on for me. Siri isn’t an AI digital assistant. Siri is many AI digital assistants and it’s not very connected nor does it really know that much about you.

It had never dawned on me to think that when I switch from my iPhone to my iPad I want my information to follow with me. I have worked in technology for over 20 years and it was just obvious the iPhone is one computer and the iPad is a totally different computer. To my wife, however, Siri is a digital assistant that is on both devices; therefore it should know everything no matter what device the question is asked on. They are not to different computers to my wife.

The reality is, that is the way it should be. My context, my information, all of it should just follow me from device to device. But today it mostly doesn’t. In the view of my wife, that means the technology is fundamentally broken. What we are really looking for is something more similar to the ship computer in Star Trek. An omniscient presence that follows us around and when we ask it a question it knows everything about us, it knows historical information about us and we can simply ask it a question and it can be a true digital assistant. We live in a multi-device world but the software we create doesn’t.

Star Trek Computer