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Virtual assistants: They're made out of people!

Mike Elgan | Feb. 2, 2016
Why Siri, Cortana and Alexa are only semi-fictional characters.

The database of responses becomes a kind of "best practices" for how humans, not machines or software, should respond.

How we'll know when virtual assistants have arrived at last

Today, most users of virtual assistants are advanced and active users, and that's a problem.

New users tend to get frustrated and stop using virtual assistants because they won’t get the right response if they don’t know how to ask the question in a way that the system understands. No virtual assistant platform is good enough to understand everything a novice says or types, and is therefore not able to provide a satisfying answer.

We will be able to say that virtual assistants have really arrived when they become the preferred user interface of novice users -- in other words, when average people find virtual assistant technologies to be better, more reliable and more appealing than other computer interfaces.

We tend to focus on improvements on the machine side, and that's super important. But the human side is always getting better, too.

Unlike other technologies, virtual assistants will become really important not when they're fast enough or cheap enough or powerful enough, but when they're human enough.

Because virtual assistants are people, too.


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