A timely reality check; an excerpt from the full article:
With the arrival of personal computing in the 1980s, the idea took the form of highly choreographed “vision” statements from many Silicon Valley companies. The most memorable was the Knowledge Navigator video, by John Sculley, then chief executive of Apple, in which an interactive assistant on a video display, clad in a bow tie, does research for a college professor and nags him to return his mother’s phone call.
But efforts to build useful computerized assistants have consistently ended in failure, including some of the Valley’s largest “craters” — ambitious undertakings ending as spectacular flameouts. The failures include General Magic, originally backed by Mr. Sculley, E-speak by Hewlett-Packard and Hailstorm by Microsoft.
A Pentagon research project and two Silicon Valley start-up companies are about to try again.