"47% of Americans live on a financial cliff, unable to come up with $400 of cash in the event of an emergency."

To address this problem, Abe.ai are introducing the concept of virtual personal finance specialists. Engaging with a virtual personal finance specialist is less about the nature of the conversation, and more the efficiency in which one can outsourcing their financial chores to an agent with a contextual understanding of their current financial self and needs. Messaging is simply the means towards action and the conversation should always be as short as possible. What matters is not the technology, but the efficacy of the product to shape and improve a person’s financial well being.

At the Virtual Assistant Summit in San Francisco, 26-27 January, Sam Artioli, CTO at Abe.ai, will explore how personified messaging products can influence day-to-day financial habits and execute the truly important parts of a person’s financial life. Everything from controlling spending, automating savings & debt repayments, planning for future expenses, and managing volatile cash flow.

We spoke to Sam's colleague Keith Armstrong, Co-Founder at Abe.ai, ahead of the summit to get his thoughts on the factors leading recent advancements in virtual assistants, factors essential to future process and the biggest challenges for adopting virtual assistants in everyday life and industry.

What do you feel are the leading factors enabling recent advancements and uptake of virtual assistants?

I think one of the leading factors contributing to the uptake of virtual assistants has been the messaging platform giants and their strategic commitment to AI. This has attracted the development talent, which in turn is provided with a marketplace of potential users.

What present or potential future applications of virtual assistants excite you most?

I'm excited by the work we are doing around using behavioral interventions and statistical algorithms to predict and influence a person's financial behavior.

What do you feel is essential to future progress?

Advances in AI is inspiring new products. It’s also creating a side effect of the technology driving the product rather than user experience and interaction being the core focus. Technologists need to re-focus on applying breakthroughs to problems, not creating problems for breakthroughs.

What developments can we expect to see in virtual assistants in the next 5 years?

Virtual assistants which "push back" against users when they intend to make a "bad" choice. Virtual assistants will become a navigating force in our day-to-day lives, guiding and encouraging us to make the "right" decision.

What do you feel are the biggest challenges for adopting virtual assistants to everyday life and industry?

The value of virtual assistants is not always apparent and there has yet to be "break-out" virtual assistant that gets those in the Early Majority excited enough to tell their friends.

The Virtual Assistant Summit is one week away and there are only 23 tickets remaining! View the agenda here.

Register here to hear from Sam Artioli and other great speakers including: Anjuli Kannan, Software Engineer at Google; Rick Collins, President of Enterprise at Next IT and (Elena) Corina Grigore, PhD Candidate at Yale University, Social Robotics Lab.

The Deep Learning Summit will be running alongside, giving you the opportunity to attend additional sessions on natural language processing, neural networks, predictive intelligence and more! View the agenda here.

Can't make this summit? Our next Virtual Assistant Summit will be in London, 21-22 September!