Digital Assistants: The Tech We Love to Hate

Digital Assistants: The Tech We Love to Hate

Alexa – you can’t live with her, you can’t live without her. Digital assistants are some of the most widely used and convenient technologies, but also some of the most frustrating tech we use. We can confirm that Alexa is “everywhere” at CES, now being integrated into third-party hardware. And Siri, undoubtedly, is the most present digital assistant without an official CES presence. Google Assistant, the technology driving Google Home, has also expanded its reach with several new integrations announced at CES.

We’ve seen how hard it is to use CES as a gauge for the new technologies we’ll be using in five years, or even next year, so we collected responses from 355 consumers across the US about what technologies they find most frustrating today. Unprompted (in an open-ended response), here’s what they had to say:

Slow and glitchy devices (mainly phones), spotty internet connections, and the well-loathed automated phone systems lead the way. It’s not surprising that our phones frustrate us the most, given how much we use them. However, we were surprised to see that digital assistants (Siri, Alexa and Google Home) were the fourth most frustrating technology for consumers. More than twice as many people find Digital Assistants more frustrating than credit card chips and printers!

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. Digital assistance is a field that benefits proportionally more early in the AI learning curve, because the products learn from consumer use. Google and Amazon are more comfortable releasing early tech and even Apple chose to release Siri before she was perfect. The space is too interesting to sit out, and the early part of the learning curve is perhaps the most important time for AIs to start learning. But it is clear that the technology is not yet where it needs to be for the average tech consumer that expects products to just work. We love what we’re seeing in the natural language processing space and the advancements Apple, Amazon and Google are each making, but there’s clearly an opportunity for these systems to improve before people fire their assistants.

Disclaimer: We actively write about the themes in which we invest: virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and robotics. From time to time, we will write about companies that are in our portfolio.  Content on this site including opinions on specific themes in technology, market estimates, and estimates and commentary regarding publicly traded or private companies is not intended for use in making investment decisions. We hold no obligation to update any of our projections. We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make.  

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