The 'Knowing' Utility or
What is the Internet for?

by Timothy Wilken

In 1984, I imagined a future where information and knowledge flowed from home
computer-communication terminals like water from a tap, electicity from a plug or
gas from a spigot. I am a synergic scientist. Synergy is that postive relationship
between humans when both individuals–both self and other– are mutually benefited
by their relationship. Both individuals are more happy, more effective, and more
productive because of relationship than they would be without the relationship. A
synergic scientist seeks to know how such relationships can be created and sustained.

In 1984, I originated a prototype for today's web site. It utilized 'state of the art'
software that allowed the user to create a RBBS–Regional Bulletin Board
System–that ran on the original IBM Personal Computer and its clones. The software
could serve information and files and and allow message exchange over a 'state of
the art' 1200 baud modem to callers who using their own IBM PC 's could connect
using 300 baud to 1200 baud modems. I called this prototype the
Future Positive
BBS. It was on that BBS, that individuals could download my 18 page proposal for
what I called
The Knowing Utility. The following was published in 1984:

Imagine––Late 1985, Anywhere USA.

Life was complex in 1983. It was even more complex in 1984. And now it's
1985. I need to know and I need to know now. I need knowledge at my
fingertips. I have to live and work smarter just to survive.

As I return home from work in the evening I realize I have left a needed
report at my office. I simply enter my den, switch on the 'Help' terminal and
within seconds I have accessed my company's computer at work and have the

file I need. I will go directly to my appointment tomorrow without need to go
by the office. That will save me time. Still connected to my company
computer, I leave an electronic note for my secretary. If she happens to use
her 'Help' terminal this evening she will be notified she has electronic mail
waiting. Then sitting down by my terminal, I select today's electronic edition
of the Wall Street Journal. It comes up promptly with one command, and I am
immediately engrossed in the financial news.

In the kitchen a second 'Help' screen displays a recipe for my wife as she
cooks our dinner. Earlier today she selected the food for our dinner from an
electronic supermarket menu and then picked it up at a drive-thru window.
She could of had it delivered at additional charge.

In the family room, our five year old and her three year old sister are using
the 'Help' terminal for 'edutainment'. This is a powerful mix of education and
entertainment developed to maximize learning. The children are using a
program from the list their mother has approved for content and
appropriateness. Because the 'Knowing ' utility is intelligent, it can determine
who is using it and only provide what is approved for that user.

In our guest room, our nineteen year-old nephew visiting us from college is
writing his term paper on another 'Help' terminal. The 'Knowing ' utility
provides the same services at his college. He can do his homework wherever
he is. He is able to write his assignments on a provided word processor
program and access a wide assortment of electronic libraries and data bases.
When he is finished, the paper can be electronically sent to his teacher 600
miles away. Deciding to take a break he electronically stores his homework.
He then uses the 'Help' terminal to finish and electronically post a letter to his
grandmother. Finished with the letter he selects the electronic edition of "TV
Guide" to see what he will watch on the video after dinner.

It is my intense hope to catalyze the creation of a 'KNOWLEDGE' utility for
our human species. I envision a system wherein users can obtain useful

Future Positive BBS ==== HELP 'Network' ==== The Knowledge Utility
Copyright 1984, TrustMark 2001 by Timothy Wilken


'HELP' with any situation they may encounter where any knowledge or
information can be obtained rapidly and easily by simple request. I see a
future where KNOWLEDGE is as available as power and water–where 'Help'
terminals are as common as telephones.

Our human history reveals we have made enormous technological progress.
Within this century, we have seen the technological advancement of our
culture marked by the completion of several major revolutions. Interestingly,
none of these revolutions were political. They are the agricultural revolution,
the industrial revolution, the communications revolution, and the computer

The percentage of Americans that work in the fields of agriculture or
husbandry to feed our nation is small and growing smaller every year. Our
agricultural scientists have even learned to grow plants without soil or
sunlight. The causes of starvation in 1983 are political not technological. The
agricultural revolution is complete.

The industrialization of the planet is extensive–Over extensive. Many modern
factories are operating at partial capacity. Our ability to produce goods far
exceeds our ability to consume them. State of the art manufacturing uses
computerized robots to make products without need of human labor. The
industrial revolution is complete.

A world-wide communication system is now in place that allows for instant
'live' communication between humans anywhere on the globe and beyond. We
commonly watch from the comfort of our living rooms as our astronauts
explore Universe in zero gravity and absolute vacuum. The communication
revolution is complete.

The computer revolution is barely 25 years old. The phenomenon has been so
explosive it has been divided into generations. We are now seeing the
emergence of the 5th generation computers. These 5th generation machines
will attempt to match 'human' intelligence. The computer revolution is

Future Positive BBS ==== HELP 'Network' ==== Knowledge Focus
Copyright 1984, TrustMark 2001 by Timothy Wilken



What possibly could be next?

In his book THE FIFTH GENERATION–Artificial Intelligence and Japan's
Computer Challenge to the World
published in 1983, Edward A. Feigenbaum

"The wealth of nations, which depended upon land,
labor, and capital during its agricultural and industrial
phases–depended upon natural resources, the
accumulation of money, and even upon weaponry–will
come in the future to depend upon information,
knowledge, and intelligence.

"For we shall argue that the new wealth of nations has
its source not in land, or in labor, or in capital alone,
but in KNOWLEDGE. Knowledge will increase the
productive powers of all laborers, the 'Knowledge
Industry' will not only broker knowledge itself to the
world, but it will also sell products and services whose
design is knowledge-intensive that their superiority must
inevitably claim a large proportion of world markets."

Feigenbaum concludes that humanity is at the beginning of another major
computer revolution. He says the focus of this future revolution will be
KNOWLEDGE, and Knowledge and Information are not the same:
"Knowledge is information that has been pared, shaped, interpreted, selected,
and transformed."

I agree there is another revolution coming, and it is Knowledge focused. But
then we differ, I believe it will be a 'human' revolution rather than 'computer'
revolution. Computers will play a major role.

Future Positive BBS ==== HELP 'Network' ==== Knowledge Focus
Copyright 1984, TrustMark 2001 by Timothy Wilken


However the revolution will be in HUMANS ACCESSING KNOWLEDGE.
Evermore humans accessing evermore Information and Knowledge evermore

This new human revolution–THE KNOWLEDGE REVOLUTION will occur
even more suddenly and explosively than the computer revolution. The
computer revolution took 30 years. The KNOWLEDGE REVOLUTION
could occur in 5 years. The computer revolution changed our lives a thousand
ways. The KNOWLEDGE revolution will change our lives a million ways.

Least Action–

Unrestrained access to KNOWLEDGE will link us humans back to our the stage of process called light... to the PRINCIPLE OF

'Life' continuously seeks efficiency. It achieves this through its continuous
seeking of the 'path of least action'. This phenomena of Universe is a driving
force of Life's evolution. It is the power behind man's progress–the biological
reason for the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, the
communications revolution, the computer revolution, and now the Knowledge

The 'Knowing ' utility will allow us to apply the principle of least action to
human social organization. This principle has always been the pathway of
successful survival for life. And now it can serve as our pathway to universal
human success.

Instant electronic access to Knowledge assures the path of least action and this
allows all humans to accomplish their goals in the shortest possible time. When
'Knowledge and Information' are integrated with a communications system,
they are most available. The path of least action is assured.

Future Positive BBS ====== HELP 'Network' ====== Least Action
Copyright 1984, TrustMark 2001 by Timothy Wilken


And if man teaches himself how to become "one" with universe then he has
got it made. He has reached a level of process that is far beyond any other
level of process known. The KNOWLEDGE REVOLUTION will enable him
to understand how to become 'one' with universe. It will 'edutain' him on how
to become 'one' with the pine trees, the streams, the rivers, the wind, the rain,
the next door neighbor, the Russian worker, the Japanese industrialist.

As the Japanese have proclaimed with their 5th Generation Project, imagine a
AIR'. Let us further imagine a culture WHERE KNOWLEDGE FLOWS
FROM A TAP LIKE WATER–only the tap is the path of least action.the
electromagnetic transmission of Knowledge-Information. The tap is the
KNOWING utility.

The agricultural revolution provided us cheap food; the industrial revolution
cheap power; the communications revolution cheap transportation of
information; the computer revolution cheap information distribution and
calculation. And now the KNOWLEDGE REVOLUTION can provide us with
cheap SUCCESS."

General Description

SYSTEM could develop into the largest service industry on this planet within
a few short years. Operated in the style of a 'utility', this system would
provide continuous on-line services to millions and eventually billions of
subscribers. The service must be powerful, useful, highly intelligent, and
inexpensive. The focus in this proposal has been Knowledge, but the system of
necessity requires powerful 'state of the art' communications technology as

In the beginning the subscriber will receive requested services over interactive

Future Positive BBS == HELP 'Network' == General Description
Copyright 1984, TrustMark 2001 by Timothy Wilken


'Help' terminals. These will evolve to become evermore attractive and easy to
use. Eventually most homes would have several of them. Mobile versions will
be soon created for people on the move, as well as 'Help' booths for general
use in public places.

The knowing utility must keep a careful profile of each user in order to
continuously modify itself for maximum efficiency. It is always seeking to
reduce the number of commands it must process. It is programmed to
minimize the user's efforts. It too will always seek the path of least action. If
you ask for your newspaper, it will remember which newspaper you usually
want. It will know you through your requests. It will learn to have your
frequently requested items immediately available. It will anticipate your needs.
It will seek always to become the most efficient and inexpensive path to

The 'Knowing' utility will be INTELLIGENT. This means it will 'KNOW'
you. It will 'know' your family. It will 'know' which member of the house is
using it. It will 'know' when a stranger is using it. It becomes intelligent in its
duties of serving the user. It keeps a record of every request. A pattern of
probability occurs. If the pattern is broken the user may not be who they
claim to be. Security is assured as the system will simply query for password
identification, whenever usage changes. Eventually the system could recognize
your typing style, or with voice-controlled terminals maybe even your 'voice'.

User Scenario–

Once a user accesses the 'Knowing ' utility through a 'Help' terminal, he
enters a world of opportunities. Opportunities for help which could lead
anywhere and eventually may lead just about everywhere.

The 'Knowing ' utility is designed as its prime mission to help every user
solve whatever problem brings him or her to the 'Help' terminal. The basic
service will attempt to provide access to all known solutions within the public

Future Positive BBS ===== HELP 'Network' ===== User Scenario
Copyright 1984, TrustMark 2001 by Timothy Wilken