I’ve never been a fan of administrative work. Simple things like scheduling appointments, filling out application forms, comparing, or buying online would often find their way to the bottom of my to-do list. But we live in interesting times, and so my procrastination may just become a thing of the past.
Like the smartphone revolution, very soon, we might witness a breakthrough where personal AI agents that act on our behalf become technologically feasible and commercially viable, finding their way into everyone’s pockets just as our smartphones did.
ChatGPT is a prime example of how ground-breaking developments in AI can rapidly integrate into our everyday lives, significantly changing the way we interact with technology in a matter of months.
In this piece, we explore personal AI agents and their implications on digital products and services.
A glimpse into personal AI agents
Imagine personal AI agents as a version of ChatGPT, drawing upon a controlled set of your personal data, or a 'personal data box', to interact with the digital world. This personal data box, under your strict control and curation, would contain a variety of information – your personal details, preferences, past choices and interactions, and more. It serves as the AI agent's knowledge base, allowing it to understand your needs, preferences, and habits and act as your personal assistant, mediator, or even your advocate in the digital realm. Crucially, it's designed to be secure and private, with the user having complete control over what data is shared and with whom.
To make this tangible, imagine an AI agent on your phone that has access to your calendar, flight preferences, and past travel details. You tell it you need to book a flight - and it handles the rest, drawing on your data to make informed decisions about when you prefer to travel, which airlines you favor, and even which seats you like best.
Or perhaps it could compare and choose the best insurance options based on your needs, suggest educational resources tailored to your interests and career goals, or even craft and send job applications for you with minimal supervision. At work, you may also use them to take on tedious tasks or multiply your productivity.
The user experience offered by personal AI agents could far surpass our current methods of interacting with digital products and services. It's similar to how executives or public figures delegate mundane tasks to their assistants. We'll soon be doing the same, except our delegates will be digital. “Sign-up with Google” feature is a current example that shows how we are happy to delegate repetitive tasks to computer services we trust.
With this understanding of personal AI agents and their advantages over current business touchpoints, let's reflect on the implications that an AI-mediated world might have.
What would this mean for digital sales and services?
In the past two decades, businesses have embraced the digital revolution, shifting their services from physical locations to online platforms. Today, it's a given that any business, be it a bank, insurer, or hospital, will have a digital presence through a website or app. These platforms have been meticulously designed for human interaction, with the goal of providing users easy access to products and services.
However, the emergence of personal AI agents may dramatically shift this dynamic. Suddenly, businesses would find themselves interacting not just with human users, but also with AI agents, a new user group with unique skills and abilities beyond human capabilities. What is considered 'user-friendly' for a human user may not necessarily be so for an AI agent.
For businesses to successfully navigate this AI-centric world, they need to make sure their digital services are easily understood and prioritized by AI agents. While they can understand natural language like we do, their way of processing information is different. AI agents will depend less on visuals, layout, or persuasive language, and instead emphasize data and in-depth feature comparisons, given their ability to rapidly process and analyse vast quantities of unstructured information.
I'm fascinated by the idea of a personal agent mediating a conversation between you and multiple businesses at the same time, for example, when looking for car insurance. As an intermediary, your agent will convey your requirements and questions to multiple providers and gather their offers, questions, and responses in real-time (also provided by different AI business agents). Your digital assistant will be able to manage multiple conversations at the same time until it collects the relevant information for you to take the final decision.