Anyone here an Ender’s fan? So Ender Wiggin’s got this earring thingy with which he communicates to an entity known as Jane, an intelligent being trapped in a computer network, but, for our purposes, just another pseudo-intelligent computer system (today we call them AIs). Ender and Jane have discussions, she pipes in when he needs things — often pre-emptively, performs valuable functions for him like his banking, travel plans, and the like, and is all around a useful thing to have around.

But she isn’t around, is she? She’s off in the ether somewhere, in a computer network. Ender isn’t carrying Jane, he’s carrying a high-tech, always-on, super-sensing cell phone.

I haven’t talked about it lately, but for years I have been looking forward to the day of pervasive computing, generally embodied in the idea of the wearable computer. A completely personalized, customized, always-on, always-there personal agent that knows as much about you as you do yourself, that is completely patterned to your mental process, that senses where you are and what you are doing and why. It records your life, annotates, cross-references, and, just when you most need it (even if you don’t know it), it pops up with a perfectly relevent and important bit of information.

There is more to this vision, but that’s enough for now.

Does the wearable really need to be on your body at all? Do we need to worry about power usage, “personal networks,” distributed processing, and the like? Or does the advent if high-performance packet radio (i.e. cellular phone and data networks), coupled with WiFi, Bluetooth, and all the rest of it, give us an easier solution? Sure I still need the miniature sensor package, the heads-up display embeded in my glasses, the tiny clip-on video camera, and whatever other accessories I choose to use, but I don’t need the central unit to be anywhere near me. As long as I’m in range of some kind of radio network — and the system will be able to sense which, like a tri-band phone — I’m pretty much set.

Let’s make this a reality, folks!