Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Artificial intelligence--as if

I have been getting some very strange recorded calls lately reminding me about obscure issues to think about in the next election, or some moral issue to consider, or the proper way to dispose of toxic chemicals. Weird stuff. But what just happened beats them all--I was just totally lied to by a computer!

The conversation went something like this:

--Hi. This is Mike calling from the Dove Corporation and I can assure you, this is not a solicitation. Can I please speak with Emily?
--This is Emily.
--Emily, hi! The morals in today's movies are going downhill and Hollywood controls all of that. They are just not making movies with family values in mind, and it's only going to get worse. Let me ask you, do you have children under the age of 16?
--Yes. Who is this again?
--I am calling from a company out of Delaware called the Dove Company. It is spelled D-O-V-E, and no, it has nothing to do with the soap. We are concerned with the lack of decency in movies made today and our corporation has decided to back a company called FFE, or Films for Family Entertainment, because they have already spent millions on making wholeso--
--Is this a recording?
--Ha ha ha!! Do I sound that bad? Actually, we have been working with a computer in this call, but I can assure you you have been speaking to a live person the entire conversation. We would like to have FFE give you a call in a few days so that they will be able to tell you more--
--This is a recording, isn't it!?
(The whirring sound of computer trying to cue the right response to spew.)
--Ha ha ha!! Do I sound that bad? Actually, we have been working with a computer in this call, but I can assure you you have been speaking to a live person the entire conversation.

Boom! And there is was. The first time I have had a computer lie to me point blank. It pulled up its little pre-recorded response and I caught it in its dirty rotten lie.

Family values, my foot. The morals of recorded telephone calls are going downhill, I tell you, and it is just going to keep getting worse.

So what did I do? Not one to be rude to telemarketers (and it did sound so close to being a real dude), I said, "No, thank you" as politely as could be expected and hung up on that lying, no-good, immoral recorded telemarketing computer.


Steve said...

You should have watched IRobot with me. I didn't know you were into Robot ethics. Maybe we could rent it again--I thought it was pretty good, and seems liked you liked another Will Smith movie we watched together once.

Seems like it might cost more to come up with a computer program that could sound like a read person, when they could just hire some telemarketing dude to be the real thing. Maybe it's just that computers don't have their feelings hurt when you hang up on them. That must be the moral tie--morality is all about getting your feelings hurt when somebody does the wrong thing.

neil and diana said...

yes, but hanging up on telemarketers is so clearly the right thing.

Emily said...

Neil was a telemarketer.

Lorien said...

I wonder if you kept asking it if it was a recording how many times you could have kept the computer in that loop? I've never even thought to ask if it was a recording. Brilliant. Figured a computer wouldn't know how to answer that. Shows what I know. But now I have a new strategy! Thanks for that.

Eliza said...

"I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."

neil and diana said...

Emily: I know, but things were different then.
Eliza: That's good -- you should record that!

Eliza said...

I probably should have confessed that I'm a nerd and 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of my favorite movies. And your experience reminded me of the evil computer Hal who tries to kill the protagonist Dave. Hence the quote.

Not that the computer was trying to kill you or anything...but the whole idea of talking to a computer really freaks me out.

Emily said...

Eliza, thanks for the clarification. I am a nerd myself and don't understand pop cultural references. However, we've got to get my brother-in-law to marry into your family. He would fit right it!

Pepper said...

A new solution to telemarketers, although it probably works best when the telemarketer is a real person. http://www.pagerealm.com/tc2k/ Go to the bottom and check out the Example TC2K Conversations: section. I haven't listened to all of them, but Example 5 is extremely funny.

Elinor said...

Which is worse, a computer that lies or a solicitor who can't speak proper English enough to be understood? We're on the do not call list so only get the "charities" that are allowed to bypass our do not call. Our latest was (1) a person from Portland who wanted us to invest money. Now that's an honest phone call, since clearly we're going to invest money (if we had any) with someone we totally do not know. (2) the next was someone who was calling for the Cancer Society, and would I put 18 stamps on envelopes and send them out for the Cancer drive in my neighborhood. Since we live close, I knew I could just deliver them to my nice neighbors, and was willing to say yes (Grandpa Elbert Godfrey did die of complications from stomach cancer)Then the poor English hard sell said, I'll put the envelopes in the mail today, okay? even before she asked if I would do it. I told her firmly I really was ready to do it until she said that, and hung up. Properly, thank you, Neil. I slammed down the phone, which I don't like to do.

Suzie Petunia said...

Way to stick it to the man...er...computer, Emily!

ahc said...

Did you put your phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry?

If not, do it. It is one of the greatest things ever. I haven't heard from a tele-marketer in years.

Austin said...

Sorry I was late in roll call. Here.

Ryan said...

I was a computer telemarketer.

AzĂșcar said...

OK, I had the same people call me a few months ago. I foiled them with contradictory statements about my tolerance for rated "R" movies. I meant to blog about it at some point, but I forgot. I yield.

Really funny call for me, perplexing to them.