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Conference Papers Year : 2021

Anatomy of a Digital Assistant


Why is it helpful to have a digital assistant? This question’s answer is not simple nor easy to find because artificial intelligence (AI) assistants, such as Alexa, Bixbi, or Siri, are amorphous compound technology and multi-purpose tools. Most of an assistant’s components provide unique benefits on their own. Mobility, voice interaction, the delegation of administrative tasks, and rapid data analysis are typical benefits, but they are not exclusive to digital assistants. Understanding an assistant’s benefits helps assistant designers and decision-makers who need to assess whether an assistant is a suitable workforce enhancement tool. Academic literature often describes an assistant’s benefits superficially. This article presents an overview of a preliminary catalog of these benefits in manufacturing. It covers central access, customization, delegation and guidance, eyes-free and hands-free interactions, mobile assistance, the support of multiple interface types, permanent accessibility, and speed. We conclude that the cataloged benefits need more evidence, preferably created during experiments in natural manufacturing environments, to explore and experience the factors that determine the use of a digital assistant. These factors include trust in AI systems, impacts on teams and individuals, training and education, and capabilities of open and closed technologies. Disadvantages, limitations, and risks concern reduced worker autonomy, constrained language understanding, increased dependency on software, and harmful exploitation.
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hal-03806484 , version 1 (07-10-2022)




Stefan Wellsandt, Karl Hribernik, Klaus-Dieter Thoben. Anatomy of a Digital Assistant. IFIP International Conference on Advances in Production Management Systems (APMS), Sep 2021, Nantes, France. pp.321-330, ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-85910-7_34⟩. ⟨hal-03806484⟩
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