See my recent Quora answer:
· What are some good virtual assistant bots?
Note, there are Quora topics for both Virtual Assistants (bots) as well as Virtual Assistants (people). Wikipedia has defaulted to the nomenclature of Intelligent software assistant; although, there are also Wikipedia entries forAutomated online assistant and Intelligent personal assistant. Additionally, there is a Category:Intelligent software assistants.
The original conception of Personal digital assistant (aka PDA) would seem to have become subsumed into today’s smartphones and tablets….
As for Australian involvement, The Thinking Head Project was a significant government supported initiative, which produced the Thinking Head Software. There are a number of Australian academics engaged in Computational Humor research, notably Michael Meany (Humour in artificial intelligence agents).
It should also be noted that the Australian chatbot company originally known as MyCyberTwin (later renamed Cognea) has just been bought by IBM Watson:
· IBM Watson Acquires Artificial Intelligence Startup Cognea | TechCrunch