Are AI virtual assistants a threat to humans?

According to experts, the rise of Al-powered Virtual Assistants is set to bring rapid growth in what is termed as ‘voice-driven payment services ‘. It is also expected that this will greatly reshape the e-commerce experience.

A Virtual Assistant can be described as an artificial intelligence system that is designed in such a way that it can emulate human interaction in performing particular tasks, such as customer service.

The rise of Virtual Assistants that are being widely witnessed is as a result of machine learning, deep neural networks and other advancements in Artificial Intelligence technologies. The three key elements that are required in emulating a customer service agent’s capability to solve problems include; reasoning, understanding, and learning.

Reasons for the rise in intelligent virtual assistants

With many technology powerhouses and large companies investing heavily in intelligent virtual assistants, it is evident that artificial intelligence is not just a feature but a product in itself.

Customers are becoming more comfortable speaking with ‘robots’, especially when convenience and productivity are presented.

How do they assist in human technology?

Virtual assistants have a variety of applications across industries. They assist consumers in accomplishing a wide variety of tasks. Virtual assistants can also be used in the role of sales agents or customer service. This is particularly appealing as virtual assistants are very efficient and scalable.

Although the dynamics are changing, there will be a continued role for both humans and robots. While machines have the ability to take up more workload, machines cannot solve every problem on their own. This is because, many a time, machines do require the assistance of humans in completing their tasks.

However, some very exciting human-assisted technologies geared towards leveraging humans for advanced machine learning are emerging. Artificial intelligence is being perfectly blended into human intelligence, thus, delivering the highest levels of understanding and accuracy. This is greatly allowing the continuous tuning and training of virtual assistants to learn and improve over time.

Impact on customer care

As many customers continue to view traditional interactive voice response systems as outdated, frustrating and ineffective, virtual assistants are becoming a better replacement. Moreover, virtual assistants are playing a major role in improving customer and brand experience by offering a more consumer-friendly approach.

In addition, the next-generation multichannel experience which gives consumers easy and convenient communication with businesses across text, voice and other channels have been greatly empowered by virtual assistants.

However, to get more out of virtual assistants, one needs to prepare. Considering it is more of a cultural than a technical change, practice, implication for procedures and ways of conducting business across organizations should be considered.

There are various challenges that you might experience when introducing A Virtual Assistant into your organization.

Securing real benefits

The assumption is always made that simply by introducing a virtual assistant, levels of performance and productivity are enhanced through the saving of costs. Although virtual assistants are considered flexible to sit and operate within a certain existing system, thus making them technically easy to introduce, integrating them with your procedures and practice is altogether different.

Robust and credible use cases need to be constructed before an artificial intelligence assistant can be deployed. Uses and benefits of virtual assistants should be identified and justified. Knowing your company’s limitations together with the limitations of the VA is also important. Always remember that systems imperfections can be magnified by an ill-chosen deployment of a VA. This is because VAs in themselves are only as good as the environment in which you place them in.

Overcoming resistance

As artificial intelligence gears towards transforming the workplace, there are widespread fears that with the automation of many tasks, there will be no place for humans in the workplaces.

This, however, need not be the case, since artificial intelligence promises of only relieving humans from drudge work and repetitive tasks. Although AI comes with a lot of cost savings, what your organization should know is that the primary goal of having a VA is to enhance the capability of the organization, by a more efficient and better division of labor between the humans and the VAs.

Onboarding and training the virtual assistants

Just like real assistants, virtual assistants also need to be supported and trained. For VAs to be really effective, they need to know the content and its audience, by fully integrating them with the existing processes.

Since this is a continuous process, as business goals and procedures change, VAs also need to be re-trained just the same way humans are. While integrating the VA, you can also make your organization processes more transparent, clear and robust.

Choice of assistant

Just as you consider a human agent as a potential employee hired to perform certain tasks, so should you also consider your VA. The most complex botsusually incorporate machine learning while the simpler ones operate just on rules. The main difference between the two is usually expressed in the degree of their adaptability, responsiveness, and predictability.

If your idea of having a VA is to have them perform a specific and straightforward set of tasks, then, the simpler version of VA could well suit your organization, as more complex tasks can be handed over to an employee.

Employing a virtual assistant

The idea of having an assistant that never takes holidays, tires or even falls sick sounds appealing. But really, where does the labor division fall?. In cases where the VA fails to answer a query asked by a customer probably because it was not programmed, human agents should be able to step in and assist the customer. This handover between the VA and the human agent should be seamless.

Also, when you allow your customers to interact with a VA, the VA should be given its own personality and identity as a way of personalizing and humanizing the experience. Customers should also be informed that they are interacting with a robot and an option switch to a human agent should be provided.


This list is not exhaustive. There are still more challenges that organizations face in the introduction of VAs. However, with well-informed use cases and careful planning, these challenges can be down faced and considerable benefits of VA deployment can be reaped.

Despite the rapid growth of VAs in everyday life, virtual assistants are being met with suspicion and apprehensionover how much recordings they are doing, and how much of these recordings are being listened to.


Credit Note: Brad Smith  is a technology expert at TurnOnVPN, a non-profit promoting a safe, secure, and censor-free internet. He writes about his dream for a free internet and unravels the horror behind big techs.