Steve Jobs was a man of ideas and vision; the kind of ideas and vision that keeps you up for many nights. In 1985 Steve Jobs visited Lund University in Sweden. He arrived with a helicopter and after making three circles he finally landed wearing his signature outfit of sneakers and jeans sans the turtleneck.
After joking with the audience, Jobs described his dream about education and how computers can change and advance learning. He had this dream of one being able to ask Aristotle a question and actually get an answer.
Fast forward a couple of years. In 1987 Steve Jobs is out of Apple but it’s that exact year that Apple premiered The Knowledge Navigator video at Educom. Credited to at that time Apple’s CEO, John Sculley, The Knowledge Navigator is nothing more than a combination of a new form factor personal computer loaded with super advanced software and an intelligent agent. I doubt The Knowledge Navigator is Sculley’s brain child but that’s my pet theory.
I can’t help but assume that even with Steve Jobs out of Apple in 1987, John Sculley was already aware of Steve Jobs fixation with education and computers. This why the The Knowledge Navigator is focusing on learning instead of design or coding or multimedia content creation.
According to Wikipedia: “In one vignette a university professor returns home and turns on his computer, in the form of a tablet the size of a large-format book. The agent is a bow-tie wearing butler who appears on the screen and informs him that he has several calls waiting. He ignores most of these, from his mother, and instead uses the system to compile data for a talk on deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. While he is doing this, the computer informs him that a colleague is calling, and they then exchange data through their machines while holding a video based conversation.
In another such video, a young student uses a smaller handheld version of the system to prompt him while he gives a class presentation on volcanoes, eventually sending a movie of an exploding volcano to the video “blackboard”. In a final installment a user scans in a newspaper by placing it on the screen of the full-sized version, and then has it help him learn to read by listening to him read the scanned results, and prompting when he pauses”.
During WWDC 2012 among other things Apple introduced OS X Mountain Lion with iCloud and iOS 6 with improved Siri for iPhone 4S and the new iPad. This means that soon all Apple products will support iCloud. Siri it’s available in iOS right now but soon all Macs will be able to connect to iCloud and sync their data with the iPhone 5 and the iPad.
Siri is currently available only for the iPhone 4S but it’s coming on the new iPad. When this happens, Siri will be able to have access across the board to apps like Calendar. With iCloud soon available for all OS X powered products, Siri will be able to access Calendar for Macs, iPhones and iPads; iMac, MacBook, iPhone and iPad. Are you getting it?
The Knowledge Navigator was the vision for the iPad and the iPad is the solidified dream of The Knowledge Navigator. The intelligent software running on it’s Siri which very soon will be able to have access to all iCloud apps and data from your Mac, iPhone and iPad. Aristotle won’t be around to answer questions when this happen but Siri will definitely know when there is a free slot in your Calendar or how to get to this place to pick up the cake or even retrieve the file you saved last semester or search in Wolfram|Alpha for Amazon deforestation data and maps. Siri on the new iPad is what Steve Jobs talked about in 1985 in Sweden and Apple aired in 1987 as a concept; that plus iCloud and somes APIs.
Thinking about it, Aristotle may not be able to answer questions but he would be really proud for each one of the “modern Alexander the Great students” in classes of 2012 with Macs, iPhones, iPads and Siri.