10 Human Touch vs. Tech: Comparing Virtual Assistants and AI

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As automated digital support grows more complex, interest has been fueled by the confrontation between user-friendly personal assistants and their artificially intelligent counterparts.

Given that people and companies look for ways to make their work more manageable and effective, it is crucial to distinguish between these two kinds of virtual assistance.

This article aims to focus on the features and nuances of both virtual assistant services and to touch upon the strengths, weaknesses, and other peculiarities that might be characteristic of human virtual assistants and their artificial counterparts. 

What are AI virtual assistants? 

Advanced AI assistants are AI-enabled digital agents or application interfaces that are programmed to perform several tasks, respond to questions, and engage with users using natural language.

These virtual assistants use virtual assistant technology like machine learning, NLP, and other AI techniques to effectively comprehend the user inputs, decipher the meaning behind them, and give an appropriate response or execute the next course of action. 

Popular examples of AI virtual assistants include:

Siri (Apple)

Siri is a smart, voice-controlled digital assistant utilized to provide responses to questions and to complete tasks and it is integrated into Apple devices namely iPhones, iPads, Macs, and HomePods. 

Google Assistant (Google)

Google Assistant is an AI-powered assistant developed by Google for Android, Home devices, and other Google products to provide information, control smart-home devices, and perform tasks with voice or text commands. 

Amazon Alexa (Amazon)

Alexa is an AI digital assistant designed by Amazon to be used in their smart speakers Echo and other Alexa smart devices for things like setting reminders, playing music, and managing smart houses. 

Microsoft Cortana (Microsoft)

Cortana is Microsoft’s artificially intelligent personal assistant that can be used on Windows devices and is built into Microsoft’s applications allowing for tasks such as managing calendars and sending emails. 

Who are personal virtual assistants? 

Personal virtual assistants are human employees who offer distant administrative, technical, or personal assistance services to individuals or organizations.

Personal virtual assistant benefits include providing personalized services directly related to the client’s request; they can provide help with emails, appointments, research, customer support, and many others.

Personal virtual assistants use their abilities, training, and expertise to complete tasks efficiently and can engage with customers through emails, phone calls, or instant messengers most of the time. 

They engage clients over time, develop an understanding of their preferences and processes, and offer well-managed assistance to facilitate clients’ objectives and organizational effectiveness.

What are the core differences between AI and personal virtual assistants? 

AI Virtual Assistant 


An AI virtual assistant is a computer program based on artificial intelligence, which is used to interact with the users, analyze their queries, and commands, and respond to them.


AI-powered assistants perform tasks based on predefined processes and formulas and hence have no interaction with humans. They are capable of making calls that include appointment setting, information retrieval, and small-scale purchase and sale independently. 


AI virtual assistants can accommodate high traffic and work as a cost-effective solution for businesses with high call and message traffic, or for periods of peak traffic. 

24/7 Availability

AI virtual assistants work 24/7 without getting tired or needing rest; thus, they are always ready to assist the user at any time and any given one via AI algorithms for task automation. 


Another benefit is the fast, accurate, and homogenized answers or services AI virtual assistants provide, as they do not change from interaction to interaction. 

Personal Virtual Assistant 


A personal virtual assistant is an independent worker with administrative, technical, and even personal assistant services. They do not use artificial intelligence technology to accomplish respective tasks, instead, they rely on their ability, competence, and experience. 


Personal virtual assistants are specifically designed to provide additional help relevant to the client’s desires and requirements. Virtual assistant benefits include that they work per the specified work preferences, demands, and schedules, which makes this kind of service more suitable and versatile. 


Personal virtual assistants are capable of performing and handling various tasks and chores, which may include emails, appointments, graphics designing, and social network operations among others.


Personal virtual assistants can build long-term partnerships with users, knowing not only their peculiarities but their work patterns as well. This means they are in a position to provide support that is more focused and efficient. 


Personal virtual assistants interact with the client face-to-face through emails, calls, or messaging platforms. They can share updates, opinions, and tips immediately and build a transparent and healthy working relationship.

What factors should be considered before choosing between an AI or a personal virtual assistant?

Task Complexity

Assess the amount of work required to be done in terms of the relative difficulty. AI virtual assistant technology is more appropriate for routine tasks that do not need personally designed decisions and can be easily standardized, while personal virtual assistants are more effective in performing non-standard tasks which do not suited for automatization. 


Think about your financial limits and how much it will cost you to employ either of the two assistants. Personal virtual assistants might be more costly since they entail salary or hourly wages, while an AI virtual assistant may entail only the initial capital outlay to acquire technology products. 


Consider the scalability requirements of your business. AI virtual assistants are capable of dealing with several queries and tasks at the same time; they are beneficial in fields that receive numerous queries or have unpredictable loads. Human virtual assistants may be more flexible, in responding and adapting to new requirements, but they may need to be more scalable. 

Level of Personalization

Evaluate the degree of personalization and customization that is necessary. The former provides customized solutions that meet people’s needs and their specific ways of getting things done, while the latter gives predetermined solutions that reflect already established procedures and protocols. 

Communication Requirements

Address the elements of your needs and wants when it comes to communication. AI virtual assistants are characterized by automated and text/voice modes of operating while personal virtual assistants are one-on-one, email, phone, and/or messaging types.


Hire virtual assistant after identifying the relevance of developing and sustaining a long-term relationship with the assistants. Personal virtual assistants can recognize clients’ preferences and work patterns and eventually build a long-term trust-based relationship. AI virtual assistants do not create a personal bond, but they provide the same level of service each time. 

Security and Confidentiality

Assess the degree of risk that is inherent to the tasks and information that one has to work with. Personal virtual assistants can be more effective when it comes to data that is considered confidential or sensitive since they can follow the security policy and non-disclosure rules. 

Technological Infrastructure

Evaluate the state of technological readiness and support in your enterprise before employing human vs machine assistance. An AI virtual assistant should be integrated into the right technology and to current systems while a personal virtual assistant should be integrated with tools and software that they’ll use to communicate and manage tasks. 

Parting Words

The choice between a human assistant and an artificial intelligence-based virtual assistant depends on your requirements and preferences.

Human companionship is friendly and an individual approach for business support services, while smart AI assistants are effective and can be replicated. Nonetheless, a combination of both might yield the best results depending on certain circumstances.

However, it is important to acknowledge that the approach that integrates a human and an AI assistant might be the best of both worlds for a given situation. 

In the future, given the advancements in technology and the development of human skills, the prospects of virtual assistants will also change.

Understanding these differences will help people and companies select the right virtual assistant tool to increase efficiency and fulfillment.


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