Huh? Personal assistants versus virtual assistants versus digital assistants

PL – Maybe this sheds additional light on the explosive growth in “digital” assistants.

Apparently the human variety of personal assistants comes with some human complications like, sex drugs and rock and roll!

One company, Time etc, touts virtual assistants [remote humans/not on site] as an alternative. Why? Read the following excerpt from a CNBC article printed Sept. 14, 2015: 

“The most shocking part was the sex, drugs and rock and roll,” said Time etc Founder and CEO Barnaby Lashbrooke. “I must have led a very sheltered life, because I’ve never had that stuff happen to me.”

When they’re not answering calls and getting coffee, [human] personal assistants seem to be having a great time at the office.

One in 20 small business decision makers said that their personal assistants have had sex in the office, and nearly one in 10 said that their PA had taken drugs there, according to survey results shared with the Big Crunch.

The survey was commissioned by Time etc, a company that provides virtual personal assistant services, to point out the issues and risks businesses faced by employing full-time PAs in-house.


One in six reported that a PA had broken office equipment, and one in eight said they had stolen it. A full 23 percent said that a PA had told someone something that was secret or confidential, and 15 percent had used a company card for personal use. And of course, those are only the debaucherous activities that business people know about.

Time etc argues that a [human] virtual assistant is a safer and more secure option than a physical assistant, and that for most of its approximately 4,500 clients, it’s 80 to 90 percent cheaper. While a virtual assistant can’t do physical tasks like getting coffee, outsourcing assistants reduces human resources costs and can be more efficient than a full-time employee, said Lashbrooke.

Source: CNBC

PL – While Time etc promotes human virtual assistants, take a look at the graph below that shows the explosion in digital assistants, examples of which are Siri, Google Now, Cortana and Amazon Echo. 

This should cause humans some pause about why AI is entering their job space. There’s certainly more to it than this, but the fact that AI is entering the workforce, in significant ways, is alarming. 

University of Oxford researchers are predicting that up to 66 percent of the workforce has a medium to high risk of being displaced by AI in the next 10 to 20 years. (See blog post about that here.) 

digital assistant