With the largest technology companies investing in Artificial Intelligence, will the AI soon replace the VA or Virtual Assistant?
Apple started the AI revolution with Siri in 2010. Understandably, there were many faults and errors in the initial programming which was to be expected with new innovations. Siri’s issues which included voice recognition and problems conducting specific search queries led to a number of class action lawsuits in 2012.
But technology companies were undeterred and followed Apple’s lead. Over the last few years, other technology companies have followed suit.
Here is a short list of AI Assistants developed by select technology companies:
Siri – Apple
Cortana – Microsoft
M – Facebook
Braina – Microsoft
Alexa – Amazon
Google Now – Google
BlackBerry Assistant – BlackBerry
Duer – Baidu
Echo – Amazon
Assistant – SpeakToIt
These AI Assistants offer users the following advantages:
Reduced probability of errors
Higher precision and expected level of accuracy
Not subject to physical afflictions as human Virtual Assistants
Incapable of emotional instability as human Virtual Assistants
Can work 24/7 without issue
Some of these AI Assistants such as Duer will complete your tasks without having to notify you. It knows what you like to order from your favorite restaurant and will find ways to have your food delivered by coursing it through the technology companies contracted courier services.
But while these AI Assistants are providing a convenient service, it is not without cost.
For these technology companies, every time you use their AI Assistant you are giving them more information on your behavioral traits. They have information on what you like to eat, the movies you want to watch, the places you frequent for vacation and the airlines you often patronize.
Information that translates to big money for these technology companies; they will send you coupons and offers that match your consumption behavior.
Many will probably agree to this as social media remains popular despite becoming an efficient lead generator for the likes of Facebook and YouTube.
On the other hand, Virtual Assistants will just work to get the job done for you. You pay exactly for the service that is rendered. It is an amicable arrangement not parasitic where one feeds on the needs of the other.
The criticism that human virtual assistants make mistakes completely misses the point. Virtual assistants have the power of foresight and rationale. They have the ability to anticipate potential risks in the horizon. And if they make a mistake, they can remedy the situation by running down prepared courses of action.
If you have customer service, the last thing you would want is to automate the process. Successful customer service is all about creating a feedback loop where clients or subscribers and the Virtual Assistant can bounce off ideas to arrive at an immediate resolution. An irate customer will only get more frustrated dealing with an automated system.
An AI does not have the ability to understand urgency but human Virtual Assistants do because they can empathize with you. If you have an important presentation, an AI can get you accurate facts but content is not just about precision. The material must be compelling enough to solicit the desired emotional response.
While AI Assistants have their purpose, they cannot supplant the Virtual Assistant. It is through their imperfections that the Virtual Assistant reveals their true value to the client.