When I was a kid, my father often used the acronym PDA, meaning public display of affection, which he and my mother frowned upon.

As a young adult, I learned to the use the acronym PDA in reference to personal data assistants, handheld devices that were the precursor to the smartphone, capable of writing short memos, scheduling meetings, and storing small files, including e-books, as well as a few games.

The combination of the two meanings of PDA gets closer and closer.

We grow fond of our smartphones, spending more time with them than we do with people, often more time than we spend with our life partners.

What does this portend for the future of space travel?

When will a personal assistant, or a group of them, need another personal assistant to justify its existence?

What if it already happened in a lab somewhere, especially the one you’re working in right now, and you didn’t know it?

What if the business colleague with a dry sense of humour, who insisted you stay on task, whom you’ve only met through email or on the other end of a bad VOIP connection in a conference call, is a PDA?

Would you know the difference?

Would it make any difference as long as the tasks are completely ahead of/on schedule and under/on budget, making you look like a business/academic superhero?

Would you care to know if you were the last human in a business deal, all the other former humans involved having handed over negotiations to their digital assistants?

Would you care to know if your personal digital assistant had negotiated deals with “legitimate” business partners some might consider members of organised crime?


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