Avatars as digital personal assistants

Imagine that you don’t have to search for each individual app, select it, then use it according to its own little system. Instead you would speak to your device (smart phone, watch, headset, whatever) using natural language, and the thing would do whatever you instructed it to do. You could ask for a high quality French restaurant in a certain neighborhood of your city at a certain time and specify that parking should be easy and safe. Your device, or rather the “digital personal assistant” in it, would mobilize a number of apps and databases and book a table. That would be the era of the post-app, so Richard Waters explains in the Financial Times, writing about Artificial intelligence: Digital designs for life.

I wonder what form that personal assistant would take. A cute robot? Or rather something very small, almost invisible? In a virtual world setting such as Second Life and OpenSim it could be an avatar without a real life typist behind it, but chatting away like Siri responding more or less intelligently to questions and remarks. Such a bot could be the representation of a personal assistant.

However, such an avatar does not have to be confined to a traditional computer screen, just imagine what could be possible using Magic Leap or HoloLens. It would make our future digital personal assistant even more interesting…

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About rolandlegrand

I'm social media manager at Mediafin, the publisher of Belgium's leading business newspapers De Tijd and L'Echo. I have a special interest in the intersection of immersive media, business and philosophy.
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0 Responses to Avatars as digital personal assistants

  1. Frans Waumans says:

    Second Life indeed was a marketing disater for many big consumer brands. Maybe they were ill-advised, maybe ill-informed. Quite a few of them came to SL when 10K concurrent users and only 3 crashes a day were considered a success. Luckily that has changed by now. Had they come today, the outcome might have been different already.

    I cannot but agree more when you say that engaging in Second Life is a very basic but crucial lesson in “being social”. Being social is about networking, meaning one could as well substitute “social media” by “networking media”. Networking requires more and different efforts than e.g. traditional marketing, advertising and PR campaigns. The latter ones tend to use massive firepower to reach as many ‘targets’ or ‘target groups’ as possible. And the target groups most of the time can’t shoot back.

    Networking (‘being social’) is much more surgical, requires different tactics, and above all different skills. And that is maybe why things went wrong for big consumer brands: old school tactics applied to a new, emerging environment. It’s a bit like the universe: first there was the big bang, then galaxies and solar systems formed, and before you knew, here and there life began – the type of creatures we nowadays call ‘extremophiles’. And these couldn’t have cared less about e.g. toothpaste for the masses. Conclusion: oops…wrong planet, let’s get the h*ll out of here and never come back.

    As to the rhetorical question whether starting out in Second Life in order to learn about social media makes sense? Absolutely. Now is the time to learn and to get familiar with the required skills. And it continues to puzzle me why not more communication specialists, lobbyists (the future übernetworkers?) do not use the short period of time, which is left before it all becomes mainstream, more wisely. Not only to avoid making the same mistakes as in the past. But , more important, to be able to offer expert advice to their clients, gained from first hand experience. Cybergrrl-style so to speak.

    That’s also the shortest way to become an advanced netizen, and a fun one.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, why don’t they want this learning experience? Maybe they think it is not relevant? If your business is to influence hundreds of thousands, millions of people, SL possibly it not a good tool.SL works very well for smaller gatherings. If you want to engage in a real conversation, it helps to know who you are talking to. Once you want to “talk” to thousands or millions of people, a real conversation seems impossible. It’s like people on Twitter with thousands of followers: one feels that a real conversation with them becomes impossible – and that is only “thousands”, not “millions”. Or are there lessons to be learned from social media such as SL, also for mass-media?

  2. Spider Veins says:

    There are many people who are totally confused with the difference between a real life and a second life in a virtual world. Could you really have a virtual girlfriend or wife?

  3. Of course you can have a virtual wife or girlfriend. Is that not what we have been moving towards since 81 when the internet moved from reseach and military and headed corprate.

  4. Aliza Sherman has got a different perspective to life. At times she thinks shes traveling through time and dimensions. It’s all in the mind she says.

  5. For me, you don’t need second life to learn how to participate in social media in gral. If your company want to participate in facebook or other social media, it makes more sense to observe and participate directly in that social media.

  6. As long as you know how to use social media as your marketing tool, there’s no need to have a second life for this.

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