The winter holiday season is when the idea of giving – and receiving – the perfect gift becomes a national obsession. The definition of the ultimate present will vary from person to person and from decade to decade. It should address both a Want and a Need, with a generous dollop of Really Cool on top.
If you were a housewife in 1950, who was often raised with a hand-cranked washing machine or none at all, one of the most magical presents to get would have been an automatic washing machine. If you are a digitally-enabled person in 2011, and spend your days inventing and remembering different 17-digit passwords, here’s a thought on the ultimate present for you.
Today’s equivalent of the 1950s automatic washer: the Ultimate Personal Digital Assistant.
The Ultimate Personal Digital Assistant would plug into a smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop, TV, car – any mobile, Internet-capable device. It would be a combination butler, online conscience and bodyguard – like Jeeves, Jiminy Cricket and a Navy SEAL all rolled into one.
Why do I think this idea would be the Coolest Thing Ever?
Lots of reasons, but first it addresses the undeniable reality of life in the 21st century. So much of our lives are online. The amount of personal and business data we’re putting into the Cloud is increasing at a breakneck rate. It’s impossible for our natural cognitive abilities to handle all that information. How many of you can rattle off the two dozen or so usernames and passwords that constitute entry into our cyber lives?
Instead, we should apply our creativity to develop new technologies to help us organize, govern and protect all that data, no matter the amount of data and services we have. We know about the rise in cyber threats and can see the growing integration of social media and Web 2.0 into the DNA of business and society as a whole.
This means we’re not just talking about protecting business data – increasingly, we have to protect our personal reputations and those of our friends and families. We have to find better ways to manage our digital lives so when we’re online, public information stays public and private information stays private.
The Ultimate Personal Digital Assistant would do all this.
It would recognize each user’s identity, keeping authentication secure. It would ensure proper encryption of sensitive communications. It would make sure users only post safe and advisable content to social media sites, while seamlessly automating access to all the user’s services from any of the user’s devices.
It would change passwords when needed, ensure that every Internet service has a different one, and essentially eliminate passwords from the user experience. It would keep users’ digital identities safe and synchronized across all their devices. It would provide more hours to do other things, greater ease of use, and a simpler experience on the growing complexity called the Internet.
Santa, are you listening?