Computer as Concierge

was thinking today about the evolution of computers, prompted by my recent purchase of voice recognition software and the article today by Mike Langberg on the top 5 tech predictions for 2002.

what struck me was that it’s about time for computers to shift into another paradigm. first we had computers as calculators: they could crunch numbers much faster than humans can. next we had computers as communicators: they talked to each other so that we could talk to each other. this required that they be able to crunch lots of numbers. each of these created an entire industry and field.

next, i think we’ll see computers as concierges; or, computers as coaches. just as we didn’t want to do the math to make our communications work, we eventually won’t want to do the organization to make our lives work. already we use human concierges to recommend things to do, get the tickets to the events we desire and the transportation to take us there, and as a buffer to the financial and administrative parts of our lives. it isn’t that much of a leap to think that this could all be done by our computers. already recommends items we might like; allows us to purchase tickets to events; airline sites like, car rental sites like, and others, allow us to plan transportation to our events, and often lodging at the site as well. i can pay my credit card bills online at and check my bank balance at and once i fully trust my computer’s ability to organize my life (as i already do with my palm pilot), i would gladly allow it to pick events and activities for me, as well as transportation, housing, and entertainments, and to pay for it all from my personal funds.

at least for the most part. anyone who knows me knows how i value my free time and the ability to do things on the spur of the moment. without that, i believe, we are denying ourselves essential freedoms. as long as i can tell my computer not to keep me TOO busy, i think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.