Most new business owners like to micromanage absolutely everything. However, they soon find out they have neither the time nor stamina for such a feat. Faced with this realization, in 2017 most of them turn to the idea of hiring a virtual assistant to help them out. In most cases, we are talking about a self-employed remote worker who assumes the role of your personal assistant. The advantages of this are numerous. First of all, you save money by not hiring a full-time employee. Second, they don’t need an office. Third and final, you don’t have to fear that you are currently training your future competition.
Nonetheless, at the moment there are those suggesting that people in dire need of a personal assistant might in the future turn to an AI rather than a remote worker. The benefits of this are quite obvious, as well. An AI is a perfect employee. It doesn’t ask for a raise or a promotion. It doesn’t need an office. It doesn’t have work hours, holidays or sick leave, but most importantly, it always executes its task no matter what. Still, how close are we to the AI that could completely replace our need for a human virtual assistant? Let’s find out.
1) Real-life AI
While some people may believe that the term AI is something quite unrealistic or even Sci-Fi like, you would be surprised to learn just how many examples of this technology you are using in real life. For instance, numerous websites use AI online customer services. These are not to be confused with chatbots that are programmed to give automated responses. Additionally, you can see this real-life AI in fields of purchase prediction, fraud detection and even video gaming. When it comes to the latter one, most video games rely on opponents that can learn your patterns and adjust their strategy accordingly, therefore, giving you a more challenging gaming experience. One last thing, self-driving cars wouldn’t be possible without the presence of, at least, rudimentary AI.
2) How old is this trend?
Another thing you need to keep in mind is that people all over the world have been relying on virtual personal assistants for decades. The first step towards it was the voicemail, which is a trend that is alive and kicking even today. Still, due to its transparent and numerous shortcomings, a lot of people still prefer to handle this by outsourcing your telephone answering service, which is yet another example of hiring a human virtual assistant. All in all, it is more than clear that the idea of a virtual assistant, both in form of a human and a machine is more than three decades old.
3) Digital virtual assistants
In 2017 everyone has heard about Siri and Cortana, which are perhaps two finest examples of a present-day virtual assistant, joined recently by Google Now. Again, there is a great difference between a true AI and the aforementioned chatbots. Aside from the difference in complexity of their functions, the above-mentioned three have a component that is deemed necessary for true AI – the ability to learn on its own. You see, as long as a software performs an action it was programmed for, it can be seen as nothing else but a tool. However, once it gains the ability to self-expand its knowledge and learn from its personal experience as a human does, it ascends to the next level in the world of technology.
4) Developing opinions
The next step on this path to developing a true AI assistant lies in enabling these platforms to think on their own or develop opinions. Now, before some get worried about the impending Skynet scenario, some of the world’s greatest minds are working day and night on installing various safeguards and safety measures in order for it not to happen. At the moment, these in-home virtual assistants are making suggestions regarding one’s lifestyle and wellness. Furthermore, some of them tend to make suggestions based on the weather or remind you of activities you haven’t practiced in a while (like calling your relatives).
No matter how advanced the current AI pioneers may seem, it is quite clear that at the moment they are still far inferior to human assistants. Even when the actual AI manages to breach this gap in efficiency, there is still a present question of how cost-efficient they will be. While today we are closer to the true AI than we’ve ever been before, it still might be a while until this notion becomes an everyday part of the industry. Until then, remote virtual assistants are probably your safest bet.