Spectrum Magazine – “VIRTUAL AI ASSISTANT”

All smartphones and most desktops come with a Virtual Artificial Intelligent Assistant. In fact, it is getting so popular you can now purchase Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa to help you control your home appliances or daily tasks.

When Siri first came to the iPhone, it was extremely rare for it to get anything correct. Since then, it has deeply improved and you can expect to get at least 50% of the answer right. Autocorrect is always humorous depending on what it is exactly you’re saying. In some cases, it’s extremely dangerous as it may misinterpret what it is you’re saying, or who you’re even sending it to. I use Virtual Assistants on everything. I use Siri and Google Assistant. In fact, this article you’re reading is dictated using Google Assistant. The following will include my comparison of each Virtual Assistant with their pros and cons, as the Artificial Intelligent Virtual Assistant will be very much a part of our lives in everything we do in the future.

Let’s start with Siri versus Google Assistant. A very clear and definitive difference is the fact that Siri gives you about 45 seconds of recording time, at which point you will hear a ding and then it ends. It doesn’t matter whether you’re mid-sentence or not – Siri is done listening. With that in mind, Siri dictation is very useful when you just want to verbalise a quick sentence or a question you want to send to someone. In addition, I find Siri very easy to schedule an appointment and schedule a task. Also, It’s extremely convenient when you want to include someone’s name, location and the detail of the meeting. To compare, Google Assistant is phenomenal when it comes to voice dictation, as you can dictate for up to 5 minutes. However, on general tasks such as scheduling an appointment – it is extremely basic. For example, you are limited to only dictating the meeting title, the start time and the date. No further details are allowed. I guess if you frequently schedule one hour meetings this is the best system for you. One system I have yet to give a full analysis on is Samsung Bixby. With the release of Note 8, Bixby will probably be more integrated with the smart phones and with their smart devices. From what I have seen and reviewed, it is quite robust when it comes to allowing long dictation, and scheduling general daily tasks.

The Virtual Assistant bot will one day be answering customer inquiries and complaints. For instance, picture someone messaging through a website asking “What time are you open?”, or “Can I return a product that I purchased?” this will somehow be managed and answered by a Virtual Assistant bot. The bigger issue with this is the fact that some answers are not what humans are looking for. The Virtual Assistant programming has developed to a point where the answers from Siri and Google Assistant can be somewhat cute when you start cursing at them. The hurdle for them is how to cool off the user so they stop getting angry and cursing.  One recommendation from IBM Watson is to let the user have a time-out. If you’re frustrated with the bot it will actually hear your tone and adjust the answer to help soothe your mood. The main issue is that if someone continues to get irate and scream in an unprofessional manner, artificial intelligence makers are looking to say in response “it sounds like you need a timeout. I will give you a bit of time before we continue.” Think of it as speaking to a customer service representative and they answer you saying “unfortunately I can’t assist you as you’re speaking to me in this manner.” Just because it’s a machine does not mean that you can go off and swear your face off at it. It does not change the answer. In fact, it only will make you more frustrated. Allow me to enlighten you on how many times I’ve spoken to these Virtual Assistants and not received an answer. Even worse, when I dictate and it comes up with words that don’t even make sense. My accent, who knew I had one, always has Google change the word “about” into “a boat”. I never realized how much I say it.

The reality is that there will be Virtual Assistants through our smartphones and desktop devices, and it will only be increasing – especially in small businesses, where we will soon have our customer service representatives online through a Virtual Assistant answering questions and inquiries. This will allow us to reschedule our appointments, send out our emails, and potentially help us manage our day.

I suppose typing will eventually no longer be a course in school. However, voice dictation will need to be something students will have to learn the art of. Annunciation when using your Virtual Assistant is critical and if it’s not done correctly you will be more frustrated and prefer just writing down what you want to say. In the end, each one has it’s pros and cons depending on the circumstance and using a Virtual Assistant can become a helpful resource for your day to day tasks, general questions, or when it comes to scheduling overall for your business.


Adam Oldfield | CEO | President FPM Marketing / FPM3

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