Alessandro Machi, a friend to this blog and the maven behind Daily PUMA and other good sites, had a rather disturbing encounter recently with a telephone pitchman -- a salesman with a difference: He was a robot.
We've all interacted with pre-recorded voices before. Usually, within a few seconds you understand that the person you're talking to isn't real. But in this case
, the interactivity was so cleverly done it could fool a normal human being for an extended period of time. The back and forth went on for minutes.
After I had my, "oh my gosh, its pre-recorded people talking to me," moment, I paid close attention to make sure my suspicion was correct. When the human recorded "voice" heard me answer "no" to their final offer, I wanted to test my hypothesis that I was indeed talking to a human recorded voice.
I asked the human recorded voice what they thought of the super bowl. The voice did not have an answer and simply responded, "What did you say"?
I asked again in as clear and concise voice as I could muster, "What did you think of the Super Bowl", and the voice still did not understand, and then quickly said goodbye and the line disconnected.
Machi speculates that this technology could prove enormously useful to Ponzi schemers.
However, the victims are going to be the american consumer, and eventually the worldwide consumer, who will have to wade through never ending and ever increasing pre-recorded interactive sales calls, while the sales company spends virtually no money per call hawking their product or service. We will be fooled, and deluged, whether we like or not.
Me? I'm thinking of the phone sex possibilities.
More seriously, I can see how scammers could use this tech in social engineering schemes that could cajole older people into divulging personal information such as bank account numbers or credit card numbers.
In the online world, we have "Captcha" to insure that a comment is posted by an actual human being. (I recently had to institute Captcha on this very blog -- yet I'm still
fending off sales spam comments!) Will we need an audio version of Captcha to separate our human-sounding telephone calls from our actual-human telephone calls?
Or -- odd thought -- are some people so lonely that we will happily talk to an interactive robot on the phone?