This series began with an expert’s definition and explanation of the Digital Person and a brief history of how it evolved. As we continue the series, the author addresses the similarities and differences between the Digital Person and similar digital “personalities”: the Chatbot and the Virtual Personal Assistant.

Comparing the Digital Person, Chatbot, and Virtual Personal Assistant

There is often confusion between the Digital Person and related technologies, such as the Chatbot and the Virtual Personal Assistant (VPA). While there are similarities between these technologies, there are also key differences that distinguish each type from the others. Here, we’ll explore the characteristics of each.

The Chatbot

A Chatbot can be technically defined as follows: “A chatbot is a computer program that simulates human conversation with an end user.” (1)

The key characteristics of a Chatbot include:

  • Very quick and multiple answers are given only to a specific query.
  • The answers are scripted, or “canned.”
  • There is no customization allowed. The platform is “What you see, is what you get.”

The Virtual Personal Assistant

The Virtual Personal Assistant (VPA) can be technically defined as follows:

“A virtual assistant, also called an AI assistant or digital assistant, is an application program that understands natural language voice commands and completes tasks for the user.” (2)

Some of the key features of a VPA include:

  • The ability to build a profile about your habits and preferences, the more it interacts with you over time. This is then used to create answers for future conversations. For example, if you ask the tool to find a good place to eat while you are on the road, it will search through its database of past conversations and use Geo Location to find and suggest the best restaurants for you.
  • Unlike the Chatbot, you can ask the VPA more complex queries. For example, if you ask it to find the best bargain airline ticket for a future trip, it will search through its database of known flights to find the best answer for you.
  • Unlike the Chatbot, the VPA can be used on a multitude of platforms, including:
    • The macOS
    • Windows 10/11
    • The iOS
    • The Android
    • Linux

Two of the most familiar examples of the VPA are Siri and Cortana.

The Digital Person

The Digital Person takes all the features of both the Chatbot and the VPA, and adds the following:

  • Hand and body gestures.
  • Facial expressions and other related movements.
  • Sophisticated Linguistics Algorithms, allowing it to converse in certain foreign languages.
  • Human based characteristics such as:
        • The type of clothing (dressy, business casual, formal, etc.).
        • Ethnicity and race.
        • Color of the eyes.
        • Color of the skin.

Thus, at the present time, the Digital Person is considered the most sophisticated of the variations described in this article. But this too is sure to change, as AI quickly advances over time.

Up Next: Advantages & Disadvantages of the Digital Person

As we wrap up this series, our next article will explain the advantages and disadvantages of using the Digital Person in various industries, to perform certain functions, and to promote efficiency in the workplace. However, the Digital Person also presents a Cybersecurity risk; the conclusion to this series will offer details and tips for detecting a Digital Person being used for such purposes.

Sources/References:

  1. IBM
  2. TechTarget

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Ravi Das is a Cybersecurity Consultant and Business Development Specialist. He also does Cybersecurity Consulting through his private practice, RaviDas Tech, Inc. He also possesses the Certified in Cybersecurity (CC) cert from the ISC2.

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