A consortium of the world’s top consumer electronics firms, mobile networks and broadcasters are funding the development of cellphones that will spend money on your behalf. The consortium, called Mobile VCE, includes Nokia, Sony, Vodafone and the BBC.
It might sound like a bankruptcy waiting to happen, but software engineer Nick Jennings is supremely confident the phones will not mess up anybody’s life. Jennings’s team at the University of Southampton in the UK are developing programs known as software agents for the consortium. “I see the artificial agent as more like a butler-type character,” he says.
The agents, which will run on the new generation of 3G phones, will watch how you use your mobile and learn to anticipate your next move. “They start off monitoring what you do and gradually look for ways to increase their role. Over time they get to know your preferences,” says Jennings.