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人工智能给你当助理

所属教程:职场人生

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luyuna

2018年03月16日

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Whether you leave business school to become a corporate manager, a professional high performer or an entrepreneur, you will spend much of your time on tasks unrelated to your expertise. Only the most senior executives now have dedicated personal assistants and so the more mundane work of email, scheduling meetings and booking travel eats up your time.

不管你从商学院毕业后是要成为一位公司经理、杰出的专业人士还是一位创业者,你都会在与你的专业无关的工作上花费大量时间。现在只有最高级别的高管才配有专门的私人助理,因此,处理电邮、安排会议以及差旅预定这种比较无聊的工作会吞噬你的时间。

A new generation of employees is looking for ways to reclaim that time so they can spend it finding solutions to serious problems: the work that will get them credit and help them advance. This work also develops their expertise and helps them remain valuable when artificial intelligence finally becomes clever enough to do all the most predictable tasks.

新一代员工正设法找回这些时间,这样他们就可以把时间用在找到重要问题的解决方案上:这些重要工作会让他们得到认可并帮助他们晋升。这些工作还会提高他们的专业技能,并帮助他们在人工智能最终聪明到足以完成所有最可预测的工作时仍然有价值。

Instead of just “bring your own device” — the tech fad of the past decade that allowed people to use their personal computers, smartphones, or other devices for work purposes — these employees are bringing their own assistant. They are paying for services to be completed by either a remote assistant who is a real person in a faraway office, or an AI-based assistant, or a hybrid version of the two.

这些员工不会只“带上自己的设备”(“带上自己的设备”是过去10年的科技风潮,允许人们把个人电脑、智能手机或其他设备用于工作),还会带上自己的助理。他们正为要么由远程助理(身在遥远办公室的真人)、要么由人工智能助理或者两者混合完成的服务付费。

I like the idea of a person taking care of my to-do list, running through the tasks I hate about my job: scheduling meetings in packed days at conferences, keeping my contacts lists up to date and doing my expenses. There are the tasks I hate in my personal life, too: from calling companies to complain to remembering to send birthday cards early enough to reach family abroad.

我喜欢让人处理我的待办事项,完成工作中我不喜欢的部分:在会议密集的时候安排会议、更新我的通讯录以及报销。还有一些我私人生活中不愿做的事情:从打电话到各种公司投诉,到提前给身在国外的家人寄生日卡以便及时寄到。

But just as bring your own device caused a problem for corporate IT departments, which worried that they could not monitor smartphones they did not own for hackers, I am concerned that companies do not know that their employees are opening up their emails and calendars to remote workers in other organisations or inscrutable AI assistants.

但正如带上自己的设备给公司IT部门带来了问题(因为他们担心,他们无法监测他们并不拥有的智能手机以防黑客入侵),我担心,公司也会不清楚他们的员工正向其他公司的远程员工或神秘的人工智能助理开放自己的电邮和日历。

The most basic form of AI assistant is the scheduler. Instead of sending several emails back and forth to find a time to meet, a user can copy in a pretend person, an artificial intelligence that reads your calendar and suggests times for the recipient. These include Julie Desk, Clara Labs and x.ai.

人工智能助理的最基本形式是日程安排助理。用户不用反复来回发送多封电邮以找到开会时间,而只用抄送给一个模拟人,这个人工智能会读取你的日历,并为收件人建议时间。提供这种服务的包括Julie Desk、Clara Labs和x.ai等公司。

When I contacted x.ai to arrange a call with its chief executive, “Andrew”, the AI, stepped in to set a time. At first, as a recipient, it felt a little rude: did they think their time was worth more than mine? But people get used to rudeness with technology: see the social acceptability of smartphones on the dinner table and children ordering around Alexa, Amazon’s AI personal assistant.

当我联系x.ai安排给其首席执行官打电话的时间时,人工智能“安德鲁”(Andrew)介入了,帮我确定了时间。起初,作为收件人,我感觉这有点不礼貌:他们是否认为他们的时间比我的更宝贵?但人们习惯了技术的不礼貌:看看餐桌上智能手机的社会认可度和孩子们使用亚马逊(Amazon)的个人助理Alexa订购产品的情形吧。

Andrew suggested two times, right next to each other, not perhaps having the human sense to see I would rather have a choice of slots more spread out, in case I was not free for the whole afternoon. After I declined, he replied with the next slot in the chief executive’s calendar, also that afternoon, even though I had made several other suggestions.

安德鲁建议了两个时间,是紧挨着的,可能他没有人类的理性来看出我希望时间段的选择更分散,以防我整个下午都没时间。在我拒绝后,他在回复中提出了这位首席执行官日历上的下一个时间,还是那天下午,尽管我提出过其他几个建议。

Eventually, we made it work. Dennis Mortensen, x.ai’s chief executive, said he focused the company on “vertical AI”, doing one thing well, because it was better to automate something “so simple, but so annoying”, than try, and fail, to fulfil the full tasks of a personal assistant. He sees x.ai as a “rebel product” that will spread through companies, like Dropbox and Slack before it, because employees see the need before their IT director does.

最后,我们终于敲定了时间。x.ai首席执行官丹尼斯•莫滕森(Dennis Mortensen)表示,他的公司关注“垂直人工智能”,把一件事做好,因为与尝试完成私人助理的全部职责最后失败相比,将“很简单但很烦人”的事情自动化更可取。他把x.ai视为一个“反叛性产品”,认为它将在各家公司间传播,就像之前的Dropbox和Slack,因为员工们会在IT主管之前发现对它的需求。

Employees at companies from Salesforce to LinkedIn, Walmart to The New York Times have adopted the product, which costs $17 a month for an individual. It costs $59 a month per user if an enterprise wants to buy it with extra security protections and analytics, which can be used “to drive productivity”. He says these are “individuals in pain” and he wants to provide other vertical services, such as booking travel or claiming expenses.

从Salesforce到领英(LinkedIn),从沃尔玛(Walmart)到《纽约时报》(The New York Times),很多公司的员工都使用了x.ai的产品,收费标准是每人每月17美元。如果一家企业希望购买带有额外安全保护和分析功能的版本(可以用来“推动生产率”),花费是每位用户每月59美元。他表示,这些员工是“痛苦中的个人”,他希望提供其他垂直服务,例如差旅预定或报销。

However, some people who want a broader range of tasks taken off their hands are turning to remote assistants who are actual people whose time they can book in increments.

然而,希望把更多任务分离出来的一些人正求助远程助理,这些助理是真人,他们的时间可以定量预定。

Fancy Hands is one such service, providing US-based assistants who can do everything from manage travel itineraries to calling customer service. They can even take on higher-level tasks such as generating leads for sales or sifting applications for entry-level posts. Plans range from five requests a month at $30 to 50 requests a month at $199.99. Other companies include Get Friday, where you can also buy gift vouchers for stressed friends, and Moneypenny in the UK.

Fancy Hands就是这种服务,提供美国助理,他们可以做任何事,从管理旅行日程到呼叫客户服务。他们甚至可以承担更高级别的任务。例如,为销售寻找潜在买家或筛选初级职位的应聘申请。收费从每月5项要求30美元到每月50项要求199.99美元。其他公司包括Get Friday,在这里你还可以为压力大的朋友购买礼品券。还有英国的Moneypenny。

Joshua Boltuch, chief executive of Fancy Hands, says many tasks need a human’s ability to think critically. But he says even Fancy Hands’ assistants are better at tasks where there is a black-and-white answer not, for example, buying you a dress for an event, which a personal assistant may be able to do if they know your taste in clothes.

Fancy Hands首席执行官约书亚•博尔图什(Joshua Boltuch)表示,很多任务需要人类批判性思考的能力。但他表示,甚至连Fancy Hands的助理都更擅长答案明确的任务,而不是为你参加活动购买连衣裙,如果私人助理了解你对服装的品味,他或许能为你做这些。

Another service, Fin, tries to make the best of both worlds by combining human and machine intelligence. Sam Lessin, founder of Fin Exploration, writes in his blog how he uses Fin to set up regular catch-ups, follow up with people he meets at conferences, prepare for meetings with new people, submit expenses, or to arrange events. Fin charges a dollar “per effective minute worked”, based on its own calculations of how long tasks take, with a monthly minimum of two hours, or $120.

还有一项服务Fin试图将人类和机器智能结合在一起,达到两全其美。Fin Exploration创始人萨姆•莱辛(Sam Lessin)在博客中写道,他如何利用Fin制作常规跟进清单、与他在会议上碰到的人进行后续联系、为与陌生人的会议做准备、递交报销单据或者安排活动。Fin的收费方式是“每有效分钟”1美元,依据是该公司自己计算的任务耗时,每月最少两小时,120美元。

All these services appear tempting for those pressed for time. But I still worry that by adopting these services on your own, you could potentially expose corporate secrets, in return for saving you and your employer time and money.

所有这些服务似乎都对那些时间紧张的人很有吸引力。但我仍担心,私自使用这些服务,可能会以暴露公司秘密为代价,为你和你的雇主节省时间和金钱。

Instead, I believe buying subscriptions to these services could be a better perk than benefits such as free snacks or on-premises dry cleaning. It could be especially useful for people juggling work with caring responsibilities.

我认为,企业购买这些服务可能优于免费零食或预约干洗等福利。它对于那些工作忙碌同时肩负照管责任的人特别有用。

Employers can then monitor the services to ensure they are secure and understand which tasks are being outsourced. Employees can get help in the short term, but spend their time on the important work that is essential for their careers in the long run.

然后企业可以监督这些服务,以确保它们是安全的,并了解哪些工作被外包。员工可以短期内获得帮助,而把时间花在对于他们长期职业发展至关重要的工作上。

Start-up founders take to the concept of remote assistants 创业者对于利用虚拟助理服务特别感兴趣,因为他们的企业是间歇发展的,很难知道何时该聘用新员工。重要的是,初创企业创始人还要为他们的企业制定自己的规则,因此可以决定他们乐意把哪些信息暴露给人工智能服务或远程助理。

Entrepreneurs are particularly attracted to using virtual assistant services, as their businesses grow in fits and starts, making it hard to know when to take on new staff. Importantly, start-up founders also get to make their own rules about their businesses and so can decide what information they are happy to expose to an AI service or remote assistant.

运动员代理机构VaynerSports联合创始人AJ•韦纳丘克(AJ Vaynerchuk)在他开始使用Fin时“放弃了聘用全职助理的奢侈想法”。这位优步(Uber)、Snapchat和Venmo的投资者表示,他越使用这个平台,他的收获就越多。

AJ Vaynerchuk, co-founder of VaynerSports, an agency that represents athletes, “gave up the luxury of having a full-time assistant” when he started using Fin. The investor at Uber, Snapchat and Venmo says the more he uses the platform, the more he gets out of it.

社交网站Reddit和旅行应用Hipmunk的创始人阿历克斯•瓦尼安(Alexis Ohanian)极其信赖远程助理服务Fancy Hands。他在该公司网站上的一篇评论中表示:“(它)让我能摆脱日程安排、打电话和查资料这些事情,这样我就能把注意力放在最重要的事情上。”

Alexis Ohanian, founder of social site Reddit and travel app Hipmunk, swears by Fancy Hands, the remote assistant service. “[It] allows me to hand off tasks like scheduling, calling and research so I can focus on what’s most important,” he said in a review on the company’s site.

在Twitter上,众多企业创始人大赞x.ai的日程助理艾米(Amy)。Impression VC创始人克里斯蒂安•拉松德(Christian Lassonde)表示,它“很神奇”。他表示:“艾米最终将一次会议被拒与一封说我们必须重新安排的邮件联系在一起。科技发挥了作用,我喜欢。”

On Twitter, founders rave about Amy, the x.ai scheduler. Christian Lassonde, founder of Impression VC, said it was “magic”. “Amy finally connected a meeting decline to an email saying we had to reschedule. I love it when technology works,” he says.

咨询公司Caliber Insights所有者、常务董事希瑟•格罗佛(Heather Grove)表示,人们经常把她的人工智能助理误当作真人。

Heather Grove, owner and managing director of consulting company Caliber Insights, said that people often mistake her AI assistant for a real person.

本文作者是英国《金融时报》旧金山记者

Hannah Kuchler is the FT’s San Francisco correspondent 译者/梁艳裳
 


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