In Tech’s Future, Virtual Assistants Will Be A Constant Reality

By Margaret Kadifa
Houston Chronicle

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The Grace Hopper conference drew more than 15,000 technology industry professionals, academics and students — the vast majority of whom were women. They were there in part for inspiration and in part for networking.

Houston Chronicle

Within five years, the virtual assistants on smartphones — such as Siri or Cortana — should be able to talk to a refrigerator, a car or anything else that can be connected to the internet.

A virtual assistant could ask a car to check its own oil and tell the owner if it’s time for an oil change. It could figure out how to fix a broken dishwasher by contacting the virtual assistant for that dishwasher’s manufacturer. It could tell the coffee pot to brew a morning cup of joe.

That’s the vision Andrea Sahli, senior implementation manager at noHold, presented Thursday during the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

“When you go to a company website, when you see a little virtual assistant that says, ‘How can I help you today?’ that might be us,” said Sahli, whose company implements virtual assistants that provide tech support.

She’s working toward a goal of having virtual assistants talk to each other and having a given virtual assistant available from any device, at any time, as long as there’s an internet connection.

“We have to be able to talk to each individual device right now instead of just having one virtual assistant that comes with us wherever we are,” Sahli said. “So that will be the big change in the future.”

Sahli’s work with virtual assistants was just one of the presentations on artificial intelligence offered Thursday at the Grace Hopper event.

At an afternoon panel, representatives at Airbnb, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Salesforce explained the role of artificial intelligence on their sites.

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