Assistant

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Related to Assistants: Physician assistants

virtual assistant

(1) An individual who performs administrative functions for clients. See human virtual assistant.

(2) An application that provides a verbal exchange of questions and answers in the user's native language. Although virtual assistants are a feature in tablets, desktop computers and table top units, their inclusion in the smartphone made the phone an incredibly useful electronic companion.

Also called a "personal assistant," "digital assistant," "intelligent agent" and "voice assistant," Apple popularized the concept in 2011 with Siri, and Google, Microsoft and Amazon followed. See Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana and Amazon Echo.

Virtual assistants are also used to make phone calls and set alarms, reminders and calendar appointments, as well as turn on lights, music and other smart home devices. Over time, results become more personalized. Virtual assistants are the first embodiment of artificial intelligence used on a daily basis by millions of people (see AI). See chatbot and smart home.

A Reverse Evolution
Whereas countless applications evolved from desktop to mobile, the opposite occurred with virtual assistants. Starting out in phones and tablets, they migrated to the desktop and table top (see Cortana, Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod).

Heavy Lifting in the Cloud
The virtual assistant is primarily driven by knowledge bases on the Internet. However, that vast amount of information is combined with the user's own contacts and calendar to provide very personalized assistance. See knowledge base, Semantic Web, AI and S Voice.
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Assistant

 

(1) A specialist’s helper: in institutions of higher learning, the professor’s (instructor’s) helper at lectures and laboratory or practical lessons; in secondary schools, the examiner’s helper; in hospitals and clinics, the doctor’s helper, who watches how an illness is progressing and helps (assists) the surgeon during an operation; in the movies and theater, on television and radio, the helper of the director, operator, and so forth.

(2) In institutions of higher learning in the USSR: (a) a state office in a subdepartment that is filled competitively by persons having the appropriate higher education and qualified for teaching or scientific work; (b) the first scholarly title conferred upon teachers at universities by a resolution of the council of the institution of higher learning (the department) and confirmed by the rector.

(3) In the military: an honor guard of two persons accompanying the standard-bearer.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
"I went home to Saxe-Coburg Square, and I took the advice of my assistant. But he could not help me in any way.
This assistant of yours who first called your attention to the advertisement--how long had he been with you?"
"Third right, fourth left," answered the assistant promptly, closing the door.
But, just because the assistant evidently did not want him to go in, Rostov entered the soldiers' ward.
"Who looks after the sick here?" he asked the assistant.
"Why, this one seems..." he began, turning to the assistant.
"I don't like 'em," said the assistant secretary; "but sometimes you got to hand it to 'em."
The assistant secretary answered, and as I watched him, I saw his jaw drop and his face go white.
At headquarters the Chief Inspector was admitted at once to the Assistant Commissioner's private room.
"I daresay you were right," said the Assistant Commissioner, "in telling me at first that the London anarchists had nothing to do with this.
The assistant superintendent, still shaken by Raskolnikov's disrespect, still fuming and obviously anxious to keep up his wounded dignity, pounced on the unfortunate smart lady, who had been gazing at him ever since he came in with an exceedingly silly smile.
"Ilya Petrovitch!" the head clerk was beginning anxiously, but stopped short, for he knew from experience that the enraged assistant could not be stopped except by force.

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