Forget Cortana. One AI personal assistant has been quietly scheduling meetings for more than two years, and is now poised to shed her beta status.
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Her name is Amy Ingram, and she is the brainchild of X.ai, a New York City startup that has trained her by scheduling hundreds of thousands of meetings and processing millions of scheduling-related emails since June 2014.
Busy professionals can still take advantage advantage of X.ai's skills for free, by forwarding meeting requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. But now there's also a $39-per-month paid option, which removes the five meetings per month limit of the free version. A $59-per-month plan adds more invoicing options for large companies.
Amy works by handling all of the time, date, and place negotiation for both parties who want to schedule a meeting. You CC her on an initial email and she then sends automatic messages until both parties agree, at which point she'll send a calendar invite. Handling everything over email means there's no app required, but she does have the potential to flood your inbox.
"I came up with the idea for x.ai after I went through the enormous pain of manually scheduling 1,019 meetings in 2012, of which ~670 had updates and or were rescheduled at least once," X.ai's founder Dennis Mortensen said in a statement. "Anybody who goes through that amount of pain will try to find a way to remove it."
Microsoft and Google, too, hope professionals will use their artificial intelligence assistant to schedule meetings. In January, Microsoft beefed up the scheduling capabilities of its Windows 10 assistant, Cortana. She can now alert you to incoming meeting requests that may conflict with your schedule, though she won't negotiate for you.
Like Cortana, Google's Assistant also knows your schedule. But its usefulness as a scheduling tool remains untested; the first mainstream products to use it, Google's Home speaker and Pixel smartphone, won't go on sale until later this year.