October 5, 2015

My personal assistant is a robot


The future of work begins with an AI handling scheduling & calendaring

Chris AbrahamI‘d like to tell you about Amy Ingram, my robot assistant. I’m pretty excited to have a robot assistant — actually a bouncing baby AI. Since this is a work in progress, I wanted to tell you about both the ups and downs of working with an artificial intelligence, all of which would be completely acceptable were Amy a human person with hours, a bedtime, a personal life, and a family.

Oddly enough, I feel that my Amy currently has all those things because she’s in training and is probably not being allowed to work autonomously yet. Ironically, because she is being guided and moderated, working with Amy is a little frustrating for me since I am not much of a 9-5 guy. My hours and my needs are 24/7, and so working with a robot AI — my Amy Ingram — who has human overseers who have hours, bedtimes, personal lives, and families, can be a little frustrating.

How Amy adds value to my workday

I often get to work at 5 am Eastern and shoot off a dozen requests for Amy to ask for her to help me schedule lots of physical and virtual meetings, phone calls, and the like. Then, if I need to move things around, I’ll make that request early, fire and forget. And then nothing happens until after 9 am, maybe 10, after the fallible human minders straggle in to work in their Manhattan offices with their Starbucks and stories of trains running late or traffic or missed busses — exactly the same reason why I think humans are well past obsolete!

signInSome may call me antisocial, but I’m not, I am just not interested in dealing with other people as flawed and insufficient as I am on a daily basis. I spend hundreds of dollars a month on tools and gizmos and services that paper over all of my structural weak points. And my lovely calendaring AI, Amy Ingram, aka [email protected], is supposed to fix at least the scheduling and calendaring part of that, thanks to the gang X.AI.

But, alas, she’s not yet a proper personal assistant, now is she? She currently is a brilliant and lovely semi-automatic scheduler with limitations that I am willing to overlook for now because of the promises she holds and what she will very quickly, hopefully, evolve into. For example, while Amy has access to my Google Apps Calendar, she doesn’t have access to my in-box or my contacts, which is something that a proper assistant would have access to.

progressIn a perfect future, Amy would have full access to all my emails, to my cell phone, to the contact info I use to call them or meet them. To historical meetings and meeting places. To the history of my calls, to the history of the conversations and relationship I have with each person, maybe even access to my Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts so that each meeting can come with a briefing.

Amy needs to know me better than I do

In a perfect world, Amy would know that I want her to send a reminder email to everyone I am scheduled to meet before our calls and our meetings, just for confirmation. In a perfect world, I would love to me able to map Amy to [email protected] (for a premium, or course) so that my brand is seamless. I would love Amy to understand global time zones and be able to work seamlessly with everyone’s local time in relationship to mine. I would love Amy to lurk in my in-box and make sure I don’t miss meetings, birthdays, and so forth — I would love a morning briefing (sort of like EasilyDo with an Amy Ingram interface).

meetingSlotsI would love to integrate Amy and Alexa on my Amazon Echo so that I can schedule calls and meetings via voice while I’m on my treadmill (“Alexa, please ask Amy to schedule a call with Bob Fine tomorrow to discuss the SOCi blogger outreach campaign”). I am mainly writing this so that I can share it with Dennis Mortensen so that when I interview him and members of the X.AI posse, they’ll know how willing and excited I will actually be to offer Amy Ingram and the x.ai community full access to as much of my personal and corporate information as humanely possible as long as it makes my life easy.

For example, a garden-variety personal assistant or executive assistant has access to my credit card info so that I can send presents to my imaginary wife for our imaginary 10-year anniversary or a bottle of rare birth-year Scotch to my best client on his birthday. And, if Alexa and Amy could get lady-married, then I could order, reorder, and gift, and then schedule it up in one place.  When my former business partner was trying to stymie my sweet Amy, he said, “hello Amy, I would love to catch up with Chris. Please have him call me on my cell, the mobile number that he has for me, in his contacts,” which she couldn’t do because she doesn’t (yet) have that sort of access (yet).

prefsI am pretty excited about what Amy and x.ai have to offer. One thing that Amy gets right, though, is that I can say things like, “Amy, I can’t meet anyone after 3 on Friday,” or “please block the weekend for meetings but not calls” or “cancel all my meetings for Thursday and reschedule them.”

And, I am told by the x.ai team that every time you engage with Amy, she learns. She learns from both doing and experience with me but she also can learn from just email chatting with her and telling her what I want. If I need to stop working on Friday at noon to head to the beach, I can tell her in real language, in natural, written language.

In fact, there are no limitations to the sort of normal human language you can use in order to engage and communicate with Amy, though I have yet to know how much is Amy and how much is the assistance of the Amy’s QA and education team. The next time I discuss Amy Ingram, my robot AI assistant, is after I interview and chat it out with Dennis and his team.

Until then, you should go check it out and sign up for the beta. It took me a million years to get my beta, thanks to getting on the list early thanks to super-duper early-adopter Stever Robbin, but maybe it won’t be too long any longer. Sign up at x.ai.Chris Abraham is a partner in Socialmedia.biz. Contact Chris via email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

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