Let’s talk virtual assistants. Yes you have made Siri sing Gangsta’s Paradise to impress friends.

You may have asked Cortana to remind you to remind Cortana to remind you – creating a inescapable loop, frying your device.

This is all fun and can help dull the pain of dishing out for that new phone… but a real assistant could be much more helpful. A human assistant could answer the door for you and filter between a courier just dropping off your new business cards, an early meeting attendee or someone just trying to steal the reception lollies.

You can ask an assistant to take your calls and get the caller to ring back, leave a message or deflect ire while you play golf. You can ask an assistant to answer questions where you don’t even remember ‘what’s his name’. A human assistant can use initiative and think of things and action them for you.

I think its time we demand more of our virtual assistants. They shouldn’t be a gimmick, they should be a tool and an interface with the computer (as well as the world). The amount of times I am working in say photoshop and feel I should be able to tell the computer to “Select all the Kardashians and toxic waste barrels in the opened photos and delete them, save into ‘that folder’ – it should already know the name of and then order me a coffee – dammit”. 

Lets get these VA’s to work for us. Give me more time and less occupational overuse syndrome. More working while exercising. More outside time. Hell they should be working out ways we can make money on the side! 

Things are definitely heading that way. ‘Hound’ an app by SoundHound (you may know the stripped down music recognition version) can answer sophisticated questions, things like “What is the population of the country that has the Sphinx in it?” (try that with Siri before she has had her coffee).

In fact the conversational UI system was thought of and being designed at the same place and time as when Steve Jobs was invited to see the first mouse driven UI prototype at Xerox PARC labs in 1979.

With brands like Apple, Amazon, SoundHound, Google, Microsoft and Nuance pushing the conversational agent to the ‘everywhere’, we may finally have the KITT to our Knight Rider.