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Impressions On An AI Assistant

Given how much we are using artificial intelligence at Zero Gravity Labs, for the past month I’ve been using a virtual AI assistant to help me schedule meetings and organize my calendar. After moving ZGL outside of the corporate environment we decided to move off of Office 365 and move our team to GSuite and while we’re loving the Google services it has moved us off the Exchange server and therefore it can be a bit of a pain to arrange meetings with colleagues who can’t see my calendar. I considered using services like Calendly and others but as my calendar changes quite frequently it did not make sense for me to send out available times only to have them be gone by the time the person clicked through. I liked the idea of not having to be involved in the back and forth to schedule a 30 minute call. So a month in what do I think?

 

One Month In — It’s More About Training Me

I would say the results are mixed but trending positively and I’ll probably give it another month of paid (non-paying users are limited to 5 meetings) use. I’ve found that my “assistant” handles one to one meetings very well and generally can understand people’s replies to her but she falls down a bit when people reply with slang or a phrase that she hasn’t been trained on like “that’s cool by me”. She will also occasionally not listen to me when I say things like “please find some time after this week” and looks at openings this week. Ultimately it is about finding the language that works and occasionally I just type quickly and forget that I need to be articulate and deliberate with my words. I find when scheduling with multiple people I’m extremely pleased to no longer be personally in the mix but just like in real life, it is more difficult for the AI assistant to co-ordinate among multiple people all who reply in their own unique way.

 

It Is Worth A Try

I think the thing that gives me most pause on whether this is the service for me is that I have to make sure that when I book things in my calendar myself I put travel or buffer time on either side of it if needed otherwise my “assistant” sees this as free time and books it. Again I think that’s more about training me than her.

 

While there are kinks to be worked out I definitely feel like this is a glimpse to the future and while there is no replacing the instincts, demeanour and report to be built with a human executive assistant, for those startups who are running lean or for those who just hate trying to co-ordinate schedules I’d recommend you try one of the many emerging AI based virtual assistants.

 

Michael G. Cohen is General Manager and a founding member of Zero Gravity Labs.

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