What is an AI Assistant?
You can find an AI voice based assistant, already, alongside most Google Search Bars. It’s underneath the Google Doodle. (See the red box in the image below.)
Source : Google Australia June 2018.
Google’s goal in the introduction of this voice interface, to their proprietary search technology, is ambitious and it’s important that they get it right. There’s competition from other voice assistants from other tech companies out there. You will have noticed it.
- Amazon lead the market (they’ve sold more than anyone else’s equivalent) for voice assistants with their Alexa product.
- Siri, Apple’s ‘equivalent’ was made available in the iPhone 4S back in 2011 and has been developed since.
- There are all manner of alternatives popping up in home electronic equipment. Samsung include voice recognition software in their TVs. Wallmart released their own voice assistant speaker just this week, in an effort to stave off Amazon.
Source: Mark Meeker
So why are all of these companies so focussed on voice interfaces and assistants?
Why this is a pivotal time for Voice Search and Voice Assistants
People want to get to an answer as quickly as they can. They don’t care how. They used to go to the library to get those answers. Then, when the internet arrives, they used their desktop computer. Now they use their smartphone – connected to the internet using a data plan. Most of us feel attached to the interface we’re most used to. Then something better comes along and we wonder how we ever did without it.
The majority of us will start to use voice assistants when they are easier to use and give us better results than existing technology. And we are nearly at that point – see the graph.
Source: Mary Meeker.
How does your child get communicate to you what they want? How does your husband? Usually, the easiest way to get what you want is to ask someone else for it.
Why AI Assistants are so important
AI assistants, like Google’s are important because they will soon become our interface to the internet. Voice is the next step in improving our access to information. We could soon be using voice interfaces more than we do our phones.
And when they become our default interface to the internet, they will be in the position to influence us. There is a lot of money in an automated interface which does that.
Voice assistants will influence us in 2 ways.
- What they show us: They will have the ability to provide search results to us in whatever order they deem appropriate. Obviously, what they show us has to answer our question
- How they explain it to us: When the interface you’re dealing with is voice, how things are said to you is important. Voice assistants will use algorithms to say the most effective words in the most effective way.
I was talking to a friend of mine who works in one of the world’s largest banks. He says their chatbot can determine which product a customer is interested in buying, within the first 6 words said to them.
As time progresses, these AI Assistants will be provided all the information Google (or the tech company which wins the AI Assistant war) has available on us. They will be able to personalise the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ that I’ve described above.
For someone who is emotionally led, the Assistant might use soft words, gently spoken. For a hardnosed, ex-military type, the language used is likely to be far more abrupt. Importantly, it will be coordinated to suit you and, importantly to give Google the highest chance of getting what they want.
Bringing it all together
The internet interface of the future will be at least part voice, if the statistics we’re seeing are anything to be believed. Whoever has the best voice assistant will own that interface and a great deal of influence over the people who use it.