Righty: the SMS-based virtual assistant that makes the case for AI – Human partnership
Righty is a startup found by two high school students with a clever idea. It's about a text-based virtual assistant service that relies on both AI and human power to take a significant part of one's daily communications and scheduling load off. The power of AI is harnessed in such a way that a single human assistant can look after multiple users, and even let the artificial intelligence take over certain queries during non-business hours.
Rather than build an app like everyone else is doing, Righty's founders opted for a back-to-basics approach. The virtual assistant functionality has been broken down to the essentials, while communication between users, AI, and human operators is established via good old-fashioned texting. This results in a simple and hassle-free system devoid of typical software issues, such as updates, performance, or compatibility. The concept also makes it possible to offer the service at a competitive monthly subscription cost.
You don't have to be a mogul CEO or an all-out busy person whose schedule and contact books are constantly filled with entries to enjoy Righty. Rather, the service is designed to be of value to everyone who wants the benefit of a virtual "secretary" automatically making reminders, appointments, and meeting or information exchanges with contacts. The functionality essentially comprises – but isn't limited to – the kind of "micro-tasks" that are very easy to do, but can easily pile up and eat into your productivity time. Once a more complex conversation ensues, a human operator is prompted by the AI to step in.
We were rather intrigued by Righty's concept. At a glance, maintaining a significant human element in this scenario seems a little backwards. After all, Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft are growing monster AIs with each yearly increase in computational power, with the explicit purpose of minimizing human-device interaction. Fortunately, Righty founder Eithan Martinez makes a compelling case for the startup's novel approach.
Contrary to what flashy presentations want you to believe, the truth is AI currently needs humans more than humans need AIWe outright asked Eithan how Righty holds up better as a virtual assistant against the aforementioned companies' established, free, and ever-evolving AIs - Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and Cortana. The answer is, surprisingly, the human element. Describing it as "the essential part of the service," Martinez is a big believer in the "symbiosis" between AI and human.
Sounds great, but isn't this cheating? Isn't the "gold standard" AI, the one all four tech giants are slowly but deliberately working towards, supposed to be a sentient entity that fully stands for itself? A viable replacement for a human, at least in certain capacity?
Maybe, but not today. Impressive and entertaining as they might be, Alexa, Siri, Google Home, Cortana, and others of their kind are not yet equipped to be trustworthy, consistent virtual assistants fluidly dancing to your life's rhythm. By harnessing the strength of current AI technology to empower human assistants, Eithan Martinez believes his service is superior to standalone AIs – at least when it comes to having a competent virtual secretary accessible by texting. And, let's face it, we can all do with an extra hand at times!
Righty launched just a few days ago and can be found at myrighty.com