How a Virtual Assistant Taught Me to Appreciate Challenging Work

I don't need help scheduling more things to do; I have to do less. Often these services suggest users spend money on that problem (which isn't very helpful if one of your problems is that you don't have enough money). Apps transform parents from workers into consumers, translating our to-do lists into shopping lists. Someone is still doing our joy-stealing tasks, and it could be a call center employee or one of the many other invisible workers who make AI systems appear to work automatically.

The boundary between the human and the artificial is labile; Yohana emphasizes that she employs “real humans (not AI chatbots) who can do the hard work,” although according to Forbes these humans use generative AI to assist They with our tasks. When these services call themselves “worker bees,” “secret helpers,” or “fairy godmothers,” they lean on the iconography of fantasy to obscure the darker reality of handing off your “boring work” to an anonymous workforce.

The work that these services hope to eradicate (or at least obscure) is feminized. It's “women's work” and in fact most of my Yohana helpers had female names. One of the most helpful things a virtual assistant can do is allocate family burdens more equitably among its members, a duty commonly demeaned as “annoying.”

Last year, Meghan Verena Joyce, CEO of another task delegation service, Duckbill, argued that “with its efficiency and personalization capabilities,” AI “could play a crucial role in alleviating social and economic burdens that disproportionately affect women. “

In an illustration on Yohana's website, a typical user is portrayed as a bespectacled woman wearing a baby in a sling, pinning a square of wrapping paper under one foot, balancing a bowl of dog food on one leg raised, he stirs a pot with one hand and types on a computer with the other. Resembling Rosie from the Jetsons, each mechanical limb activates independently to work more efficiently. We know AI helpers, like Apple's Siri, are modeled on female stereotypes, but here it seems the opposite is happening: a mother has been recast as a robotic being, her job dismissed as mechanical and easily trusted all around. 'external.

In the few weeks I've spent as a virtual assistant, I've realized that much of the busy work apps require is actually quite personal, often rewarding, and occasionally transformative.

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