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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 assistant," "voice assistant" and "intelligent agent," 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 were the first embodiment of artificial intelligence used every day 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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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 periodicals archive ?
London: Radical cleric Abu Qatada, once dubbed Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, has been arrested in London for allegedly breaching his bail conditions, officials and media said Saturday.
OUR article of August 28 stated that former MP Elliot Morley, jailed for his role in the MPs' expenses scandal, had "landed the cushiest job in jail" as the right-hand man to the prison chaplain.
Fabio Capello's right-hand man has been offered a chief executive role at the Serie A club, where he spent six years as director of football.
Speed hopes to confirm his backroom staff team next week and he is keen to find a role for Carver, who was his right-hand man at Sheffield United.
Alex McLeish's right-hand man Andy Watson and chief Villa scout Ian Storey-Moore were both in the Hawthorns stands for yesterday's 5-0 hammering of Watford.
Lord Tebbit, Margaret Thatcher's right-hand man during the strike, launched into a fresh war of words with the former NUM president, referred to only as 'Scargill', in an interview with The Journal.
MICK CHANNON, who sustained serious injuries in a car crash last week, which claimed the life of his friend and right-hand man Tim Corby, was yesterday reported to be "coming along good" by his racing secretary Susan Harding.
Father-of-five Mr Smith, 40, said to be the former right-hand man of Curtis Warren, was shot twice at close range with a shotgun as he left Nel's gym in Speke.
SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON will have a crunch meeting over his future with Thaksin Shinawatra's right-hand man immediately after today's game with Middlesbrough.
And Gatland would also like his right-hand man during Wales' RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam success, Shaun Edwards, to be involved.
Across the river at the Pentagon, Rumsfeld's exit hits Cheney loyalists hard, as does the departure of Rumsfeld's right-hand man, Stephen Cambone, formerly the Pentagon's intelligence czar, torture-enabler and overseer of a vast expansion of domestic spying.
This underacknowledged African American was the right-hand man upon whom Robert E.