Aren’t AI Digital Assistants just like Search Engines? They both try to recognize your question or human utterance as best as possible to serve up your requested content. E.g.classic FAQ. The difference in the FAQ use case is the proprietary information from the company hosting the digital assistant may not be available on the internet.
Another difference between the Digital Assistant and a Search Engine is the ability of the Digital Assistant to ‘guide’ a person through a series of questions, enabling elaboration, to provide the user a more precise answer.
The Digital Assistant may use an interactive dialog to guide the user through a process, and not just supply the ‘most correct’ responses. Many people have flocked to YouTube for instructional type of interactive medium. When multiple workflow paths can be followed, the Digital Assistant has the upper hand.
The Digital Assistant has the capability of interfacing with 3rd parties (E.g. data stores with API access). For example, there may be a Digital Assistant hosted by Medical Insurance Co that has the ability to not only check the status of a claim, but also send correspondence to a medical practitioner on your behalf. A huge pain to call the insurance company, then the Dr office, then the insurance company again. Even the HIPPA release could be authenticated in real time, in line during the chat. A digital assistant may be able to create a chat session with multiple participants.
Digital Assistants overruling capabilities over Search Engines are the ability to ‘escalate’ at any time during the Digital Assistant interaction. People are then queued for the next available human agent.
There have been attempts in the past, such as Ask.com (originally known as Ask Jeeves) is a question answering-focused e-business. Google Questions and Answers (Google Otvety, Google Ответы) was a free knowledge market offered by Google that allowed users to collaboratively find good answers, through the web, to their questions (also referred as Google Knowledge Search).