The technologies of the future we saw portrayed in books, movies and TV shows 20 years ago, such as video calling and handheld computers, are now so commonplace they have lost their "wow" factor. However, as we continue to look towards the future, new advancements on the horizon like full-service artificial intelligence (AI) personal assistants with multitasking capabilities have captured the business world’s attention.
Today, you or maybe an assistant still handle mundane tasks like scheduling appointments, arranging travel, coordinating meetings and even ordering office supplies — and some of today’s AI personal assistants can handle one or two of them. In the near future, AI personal assistants will undoubtedly automate nearly all of these manual, time-consuming tasks, as well as gain the ability to multitask like the most efficient humans.
But those days aren't here just yet.
Why Aren't Full-Service and Multitasking AI Personal Assistants Here Yet?
AI is characterized by a few key abilities:
- Learn: An AI system is given an objective and provided ways to measure how effectively that objective is reached. The AI system then uses its experience in trying to reach that goal to improve its process for later iterations.
- Perceive: An AI system gathers information about its conditions and filters out useless information based on what it has learned.
- Adapt: An AI system develops different options when conditions change.
- Make decisions: An AI system selects from its different options autonomously.
In some contexts, such as playing chess, AI's effectiveness is easily quantified by its ability to rate itself and improve its performance. In other cases, such as maintaining calendars, making appointments and scheduling meetings, its effectiveness can be more difficult to measure. Determining how effectively an AI personal assistant is at completing tasks like these is subjective and might not include quantifiable factors, such as how busy your schedule is and whether you were given enough lead time to prepare.
Moreover, AI systems aren’t equipped with intuition (yet). In humans, intuition helps to narrow down options when knowledge is incomplete. For example, an AI weather bot wouldn't have a problem calculating the probability that a rainstorm will hit Seattle in the next three days but an AI personal assistant would have difficulty rearranging your schedule in case of bad weather.
Those current shortcomings are what needs to be addressed before AI personal assistants can play a more comprehensive role in supporting today’s executives and business owners.
Related Article: Chatbots Belong in the Workplace (Provided They're Well-Designed)
Full-Service Multitasking AI Personal Assistants Will Be Here Soon
I believe we'll see multitasking AI personal assistants soon for a few reasons: AI software and hardware are improving quickly. These complex systems can run without requiring a supercomputer. And finally, the technology has begun to develop ways of helping AI interact with people.
While some of the deep learning and decision-making needed for truly complex AI is still being developed, AI interfaces have advanced by leaps and bounds in the past few years. And there’s no reason to believe that won’t continue in the years ahead — and at a much faster rate.
For example, natural language interfaces are now standard for many uses, such as cell phones and smart speakers that respond to spoken — rather than typed — questions and instructions. Overcoming this barrier is an important step towards further development of AI personal assistants.
Similarly, AI has become better at intuiting preferences from behavior. AI systems are used on social networking systems to predict the articles and videos you would like to see. It is a small step for these same systems to book your preferred flight itineraries and hotels when you travel based on your previous decisions.
Related Article: The Intelligent Digital Workplace Is Already Here
How Will Full-Service Multitasking AI Personal Assistants Benefit Your Business?
The exact benefits of AI personal assistants are unquantifiable. You'll be using them to assist with your own unique business processes. However, many general benefits will fall under these two categories:
- Efficiency: AI personal assistants will be more efficient at handling your mundane tasks. Chatbots already manage help desk phone calls and online chats more efficiently than human agents.
- Productivity: AI personal assistants will free up your staff to handle tasks that can’t be automated yet. For example, rather than scheduling and coordinating meetings, your staff can prepare content for meetings. Moreover, AI personal assistants will be less expensive and can work around the clock.
AI personal assistants still have a ways to go before they can provide full service and multitasking capabilities. However, once developed, AI personal assistants will be able to make processes more efficient and optimized, freeing up people's time to focus on more complex and engaging responsibilities.