A white paper from Bull Information Systems is predicting that by 2010 we will have "digital familiars" acting as agents to protect us against the evils of information overload.
Into the Third Millennium: Trends beyond the Year 2000, coincides with the first anti-spamming law, which was signed in Washington last month, and new spam-blocking software from Bright Light.
John Mozena, who works for the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (Cause) said: "Spam represents a major cost for Net providers and surfers who are still being forced to pay for other people's advertising."
Mozena is not convinced that the recent law signed in Washington is enough.
"The law gives individuals the right to go to court and sue for up to $500 but this does nothing for corporations harassed on a daily basis," he added. Email filtering with products, such as Bright Light's software, catches spam by using dummy Email accounts that do nothing but receive unsolicited mail. Once identified the spam is blocked by a "spam wall" on ISP's and corporate mail servers.
Mozena believes that technology alone cannot stop spam - enter the digital familiar, says Bull.
This would take the form of an intelligent interface between the user and their computer: perhaps a realistic human face or a crude caricature, a Red Dwarf "Holly" or a "Max Headroom" that mediates between the user but also interacts with the more complex and alien world of computer networks, databases and the Internet. One of these tasks would be to intercept and evaluate Emails arriving at the users desk.
Ian Christie, deputy director of research agency Demos, said, "The digital familiar would be extremely useful in a business environment where it is programmed to search for information, watch the competition, monitor stocks and shares, and report on what it finds."
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