Intelligent Personal Assistants

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Intelligent personal assistants, also called virtual assistants, is software that can assist the user with tasks, planning, or retrieving information similarly to a human assistant. This software usually fully utilizes the sensors present on the device it runs on for contextual awareness. This way it can deliver more accurate and relevant information. Modern intelligent personal assistants are able to learn based on previous input so they can offer better, more personalized results to the user.

Personal assistants that are for the general consumer are, for example, the Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, or Google Now. Advanced AIs that can also be utilized as intelligent personal assistants in some applications include for example the IBM Watson.

Main Characteristics

These assistants usually take a form of an app that acts as an interface for the user. Through this interface, the user can either by voice or by text issues queries and commands to the assistant software. The user-end interface is able to understand natural language, retrieve relevant information from it, and pass the now parsed query to a server on which the actual assistant software runs. The query is processed and appropriate information is retrieved, or action undertaken, and the result is sent back to the user interface where it is displayed by text and, often, read aloud using speech synthesis.

This software is usually found on personal, hand-held devices, mainly smartphones. The assistant then can be available at any time, provided there is connection to the Internet, as no processing is actually done on the device itself. However, applications in other forms are available, e.g. voice commanded Amazon Echo that has some features of an intelligent personal assistant.

Historical overview

One of the earliest examples of a electronic personal assistant engine is the Apple's Knowledge Navigator[1] from 1987. John Sculley, then Apple CEO, demonstrated the vision of an artificial intelligence application that helps the user in an academic setting.[2] Sculley wanted something that would accompany his keynote speech and opted for a short "science-fiction" video from human-computer interaction researcher William Buxton. The group created a short video[3] showing their idea about what the interaction between the user and the virtual assistant may look like in the year 2011. The video was originally meant only as a showcase of technologies Sculley would highlight in his keynote but Apple liked the concept and created several sequels for marketing purposes.[4]


Intelligent personal assistants is a software that can assist the user in his daily activities, navigation, information retrieval and organization.

Important Dates


Enhancement - personal assistants can greatly help user to effortlessly organize their activities or use online services as well ass aid in information retrieval.

Ethical & Health Issues

Public & Media Impact and Presentation

Public Policy

Related Technologies, Projects or Scientific Research