Is Apple's iPhone 4S digital assistant Siri really Knowledge Navigator from 1987?

By , ITworld |  Networking, Apple iphone 4S, ipad

Some are claiming the new Apple iPhone 4S with natural language-based voice assistant Siri are the realization of a video from 1987 demonstrating the Knowledge Navigator. Was John Sculley seeing 24 years into the future?

Let's look at the details in the video below. Knowledge Navigator (KN from now on) was a touch screen, as is the iPad and iPhone. KN had a natural language interface, as does Siri. Both query networks for information, although Siri checks weather and traffic, while KN puts together lectures. Anyone else notice the professor in the video worked about five minutes before heading off to lunch?

But the dates line up interestingly. On the KN video, the date is September 16, and the professor is looking for a paper written "about five years ago" which turns out to be July, 2006. And less than a month later than the video is set, the iPhone 4S and Siri appear. Either John Sculley was eerily prescient, or some people today have turbo-charged their imaginations to make this comparison fit.

Great prediction

Yet the assistant in the video does seem to be much closer to a strong AI than Siri. Siri doesn’t e.g. summarize emails and phone calls. Still...
Alan Hogan on waxy.org

It's worth looking up Alan Kay and his Dynabook concept, first proposed in 1968! Kay was crucial in developing OOP, Smalltalk and, of course, the GUI. He worked with many tech companies, including Apple. I see it as no coincidence that the above video was produced within a year of Kay joining Apple's Advanced Technology Group.
nolavabo on cultofmac.com

Actually, I think Star Trek predicted this far before. But aside from that, this isn't anything special, people have been "predicting" future tech for a while and really, this isn't particularly advanced stuff we're even talking about.
Cochese on gizmodo.com

Yeah, but

Does it run Flash? Can I load porn apps on it? Oh right, it's an Apple product...
Darrin on waxy.org

The only thing similar to Siri in that video is when he said "Listen to..." which pretty much every phone has been able to do in the last decade.
SafeofMusic on gizmodo.com

How far is your tongue in your cheek? The functionality shown in this video is still quite a ways off.
Anonymous on waxy.org

Future is always better

Hey Apple fan boys calm yourselves. Do you know of a movie called 2001 A Space odyssey, and a computer called HAL?
becevit on gizmodo.com

Don't think the stuff from apple today is quite this cool
Nacho on waxy.org

They didn't predict that our attention spans would be so short that it would make this video un-watchable did they?
KillerKoala on gizmodo.com

Is it just me, or does the bow-tied assistant in Knowledge Navigator look like a young Bill Nye the Science Guy?

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