Assistants in the Age of AI

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item Assistants in the Age of AI

  • I'll take a smart "Pepper" (think Iron Man) over an AI all day long.  And, no... not for looks... for smarts that I can trust instead of having serious doubts.  If I can't trust the return, then why bother with the tool?  If I were in business, I'd rather pay a good human.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Change is inevitable... Change for the better is not.


    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

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  • The important thing is defining what the limits of what the BOT is allowed to do.

    https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20240222-air-canada-chatbot-misinformation-what-travellers-should-know

  • I'm with Jeff on this one, if I were to rate an "Assistant" or a Secretary, I'd far rather have a live, smart human being in the role.  Both because they'd be able to deal with in-person interactions (random co-worker walks up needing something) and they're going to be far, far better suited to "edge case" situations than any (current) "AI."

    At best, at present, I could see using some sort of "AI" as a glorified e-mail filter, something better than the current e-mail filtering options based on words, phrases, or who the email is from, that could serve both as a basic filter (move emails from X to folder Y) AND categorize emails based on some criteria you define (emails from A move to folder B and categorize as "URGENT" when situation C occurs)

  • I'd like to comment on this article, from a different angle, probably not representative of most of you.

    When I first joined my current employer, I was placed in a cubicle farm with lots of other people. I was also put next to an IT Help desk person. (I've never understood the reasoning of those who assign people in cube farms; placing people like DBAs and developers next to others who spend the whole day talking on the phone.) This person I sat next to answered lots of phone calls from people seeking help. (She talked nonstop, whether she was on the phone or not. It was very distracting and hurt my productivity significantly.) Because I sat next to her and could hear all the conversations she had, I noticed that the overwhelming majority of calls were from people seeking help to reset their password. I'd guess 80% to 90% of the calls she answered were from people seeking help in resetting their password.

    She was good at handling those requests, I'll admit. But I was surprised at the huge magnitude of redundancy in only one type of request. About that same time, I heard on podcasts of some software applications that companies could purchase, to handle exactly this type of problem. At that time, about 8 or 9 years ago, I wondered why we didn't buy one of those applications. It probably would have meant reducing a few of the many help desk people, since much of their work would have been handled by one of these applications. (Our help desk people account for a significant number of the 200 IT people we employ, so a few would have to either be retrained or let go.) We didn't buy any of this apps, but instead just employed a small army of help desk people, even today, who mostly answer how to reset your password.

    This was all long before ChatGPT and the like and continues to today. I'm guessing that some companies/organizations have ulterior motives to continue doing things the same old way, that is decades old.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • I was offered the help of a secretary once when I was getting around 350 emails per day so it was very hard to find the important emails mixed in with the sea of everything else.

    However with the nature of the technical work, PAs struggled to really help, in the end moving all emails from each month into a "month" folder which broke conversation view and actually made things worse so I ended up moving them all back to the inbox.

    I think AI in this context could help to surface important emails whilst moving the others down the list without having to manually set up many rules to handle each specific scenario.

    Also it would help if people didn't CC everyone they can think of into their emails. Maybe they need Clippy popping up, knocking on the screen, asking them if they really want to copy in so many people.

    I left there after a year, shortly after the PAs.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by  Robin Wilson.
  • Dang, Robin, 350 emails per day is quite an onslaught of emails! I thought I got a lot, but what I get is nothing compared to what you were getting!!

    I've used MS Outlook for many years. I love it and it's my go-to mail client. However, I've found that rules and filtering to be sometimes mysteriously unreliable. For example, I'll get emails from someone at a vendor, then I'll create a rule to send all that person's emails to a folder I named Vendors. However, some of these vendors will get multiple people to send out emails to you, trying to get you to purchase their services/products/what-have-you. So, rather than create a new rule for each of these people, I try to modify the first rule, making it filter by domain name. However, that isn't always reliable.

    I agree, I'd love to get some help from an AI that would be smarter than Outlook's filtering/rules.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • Robin Wilson wrote:

    I was offered the help of a secretary once when I was getting around 350 emails per day so it was very hard to find the important emails mixed in with the sea of everything else.

    However with the nature of the technical work, PAs struggled to really help, in the end moving all emails from each month into a "month" folder which broke conversation view and actually made things worse so I ended up moving them all back to the inbox.

    I think AI in this context could help to surface important emails whilst moving the others down the list without having to manually set up many rules to handle each specific scenario.

    Also it would help if people didn't CC everyone they can think of into their emails. Maybe they need Clippy popping up, knocking on the screen, asking them if they really want to copy in so many people.

    I left there after a year, shortly after the PAs.

    It's funny how many people there are that think that "Effective Communication" means CCing everyone including the janitors.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Change is inevitable... Change for the better is not.


    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • Yes it was a bit soul destroying and so many people copy in a lot of extra staff and I think this is often as a way to make their request seem more important to the ones of other people who do not copy in the additional people. However, with so much coming in that does not directly affect you and could have been summarised as part of a broader update on progress it does take up time for all these people to sift through and sort everything.

    I changed jobs so no longer have inboxes that are quite so chaotic although working as a consultant I have an inbox for each organisation I work for where they tend to forget I may only work 1 day per week for them but it is much more manageable and sustainable.

    Another area Microsoft doesn't really seem to get right is the search function. I can see emailed quite clearly titled with a specific word but if I do a search am told there are no results so I have to instead group by subject or sender to try to locate it other ways as the basic search is broken. Next time I try to search it may work but then you can't trust whether there is nothing or it just isn't co-operating and perhaps if you search again later with the same search term you will get lots of results.

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