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"I do think there is a link in that in both cases, writing fiction or writing a computer program, at any given moment you're focusing on a very specific and particular thing—one word, one line of code, whatever."
- Neal Stephenson

Interests Profile  
  An intelligent agent; a software program with your personal tastes on file.  

The interests profile is the only way to deal with the profusion of goods and services in a worldwide networked economy.

"...Have you filled out an interests profile?"

"I don't think so."

"Oh, do! Then it will tell you what programs are on, what parties you will be welcomed at, who you would wish to know. It's terrible to go on impulse, Charles," she said earnestly. "Let the joymaker help you."

He discovered that his own teacup had been replenished and he took a sip. "I don't understand," he said. "You mean I should let the joymaker decide what I'm going to do for fun?"

"Of course. There's so much. How could you know what you would like?"

Technovelgy from The Age of The Pussyfoot, by Frederik Pohl.
Published by Ballantine in 1966
Additional resources -

This is a remarkable prediction from Pohl; the interests profile along with the networked software applications that use it corresponds very closely to what were called autonomous "intelligent agents" in the 1990's.

Knowledge engineering Professor Nikola Kasabov provides the following description of an autonomous intelligent agent's feature set:

  • learn and improve through interaction with the environment
  • adapt online and in real time
  • learn quickly from large amounts of data
  • accommodate new problem solving rules incrementally
  • have memory based exemplar storage and retrieval capacities
  • have parameters to represent short and long term memory, age, forgetting, etc.
  • be able to analyze itself in terms of behavior, error and success.

This also anticipates the Personal Interest Profile that Arthur C. Clarke mentions in his Fountains of Paradise about a decade later. See also the the personalized news from Ralph 124c 41 + (1911), by Hugo Gernsback, which had the idea of a newspaper printed based on general subscriber interests.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Age of The Pussyfoot
  More Ideas and Technology by Frederik Pohl
  Tech news articles related to The Age of The Pussyfoot
  Tech news articles related to works by Frederik Pohl

Interests Profile-related news articles:
  - Aroxo Intelligent Agents Negotiate For You
  - Her Majesty's 'Web Robot' Catches Tax Dodgers
  - Rity - Sobot Longs To Be Near You
  - Web Services Wizard And Frederik Pohl's Joymaker
  - Re Google: William Gibson, Read More SF

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