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Author Topic: Are robots working in telesales?  (Read 3821 times)

Offline thedoc

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Are robots working in telesales?
« on: 16/01/2014 14:40:24 »
Are commercial companies using robots to sell you products? And how realistic are they?

Read the whole story on our website by clicking here

  or Listen to the Story or [download as MP3]
« Last Edit: 16/01/2014 14:40:24 by _system »


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Are robots working in telesales?
« Reply #1 on: 09/01/2014 05:46:21 »
Did the robot have a good heavy accent from India?

It sounds a little like Eliza, although obviously a few decades more sophisticated.  Presumably the machine can have a pretty simple vocabulary, and various redirects.

If you have Emacs on your computer, you can get to Eliza with the command Escape-X-Doctor command.

Anyway, that sounds like a lot more sophisticated than the robo-calls that I've received.  Hmmm, the most recent robo-calls I've received was trying to get me to buy a med-alert button.  The machine I got wasn't very responsive, and couldn't answer simple questions like "who are you calling"?

Personally I will never buy anything from either unsolicited SPAM, or telemarketing.  Years ago I worked swing shift and graveyard shift, and the telemarketers got permanently blacklisted for me.  I also have a rule that I won't talk to computers, although perhaps I should try the next one "for entertainment purposes only".

I can see I should bypass the new US Health Care Exchanges.  The last thing I want is to be put on another robo-telemarketing list.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Are robots working in telesales?
« Reply #2 on: 09/01/2014 06:27:39 »
Hmmm, according to this article, Samantha West may not in fact be a robot, but rather is a computerized interface for telemarketers with poor English skills. 

I.E.  rather than calling with an Indian accent, or perhaps broken English, actually calling with an American sounding accent.  However, they've only given the telemarketers a few stock phrases to use.

Search for Samantha West on Google for videos and to hear the voice.

Comentary about robot vs real person + macros
 

Offline RD

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Re: Are robots working in telesales?
« Reply #3 on: 09/01/2014 07:13:53 »
Have you seen the chatbots arguing ? ...
:)
« Last Edit: 09/01/2014 07:16:12 by RD »
 

Offline chris

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Re: Are robots working in telesales?
« Reply #4 on: 09/01/2014 19:21:15 »
If you listen to the piece, you'll hear her talking: I included a sample of the journalists questioning "her" in the programme.

Chris
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Are robots working in telesales?
« Reply #5 on: 09/01/2014 21:16:59 »
Thanks,
I suppose I should listen to the show, rather than just reading the summary.

So, apparently it isn't a "robot".  but rather extensive set of voice macros.  It is actually a "real person". and not a computer lying about being a real person.  However, the person is given a well defined set of macros.  When one strays beyond the questions that the macros are designed to accommodate, then it becomes increasingly obvious that the interface has problems.  And, of course, the odd pauses as answers are retrieved.

So, the question is whether it is more believable for a telemarketer to be obfuscating their voice.  For all we know, Samantha West could be played by several men.

I've been on websites that offer "online assistance", and they almost all universally have a photo of a beautiful woman as part of the interface.

Pleasant voice or not, uncovering a fundamental lie doesn't make me more comfortable about working with a person.

What about handicapped people.  Would one approach the problem the same if the person said "I have a tracheostomy.  Excuse me for using a medical assist device as part of this call".  Or, Stephen Hawking with advanced ALS was accepted with his speech synthesizer.
« Last Edit: 09/01/2014 21:21:08 by CliffordK »
 

Offline AdrianJC

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Re: Are robots working in telesales?
« Reply #6 on: 10/01/2014 21:05:57 »
Samantha West is very likely just newbielink:http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/12/the-only-thing-weirder-than-a-telemarketing-robot/282282/ [nonactive] that a real person, who can understand spoken English newbielink:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQZkxb2HpW0 [nonactive], has to select from according to call-centre training scripts. It is a "robot" in the same sense that newbielink:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Turk [nonactive] is a robot.

This development in telemarketing technology was inevitable, after all, people have been using newbielink:http://www.crocopuffs.com/soundboard/arnold.html [nonactive] to newbielink:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmMTsCQAfhw [nonactive] for several years now.
« Last Edit: 10/01/2014 21:30:16 by AdrianJC »
 

Offline thedoc

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Feedback - robot telesales experience
« Reply #7 on: 08/02/2014 21:30:02 »
Vicki Stearn asked the Naked Scientists:
   
I received one of those Robot calls mentioned on the show . The quiet points between answers tipped me off. But I wasn't sure. So I asked it, "Are you a human or a computer". But before I said "computer", it answered "I am not a robot". But I hadn't asked it if was a "robot".

So I think asking more complicated sentences gives the computer away. It's not a "robot", by the way. And, what's funny is that even though I knew it was not a human, I still felt animosity toward the "woman" I was talking to.

Thanks for bringing up this topic. I haven't seen any news coverage, and I haven't asked friends. It's funny and creepy.

Best, Vick, in Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Vicki Stearn

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 08/02/2014 23:33:24 by CliffordK »
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Are robots working in telesales?
« Reply #8 on: 08/02/2014 23:30:43 »
Apparently it is not a "robot", but rather is a set of macros designed to provide a pleasing voice for customers.  So, in a sense, the "I'm not a robot" is an appropriate response. 

For some reason they never programmed the system with a response like:

"I'm a middle-aged man with broken English and a heavy accent hiding behind a computer interface, not a young woman with a pleasant voice".
 

Offline thedoc

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Feedback: Robotic telemarketer is not a robot
« Reply #9 on: 12/02/2014 15:30:01 »
Marek Petrik asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi there,

I just heard the discussion about "Samantha the marketing robot" on your show - http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/news/news/1000408/.

I want to point out that this is most likely not a real robot, just a pleasant female voice controlled by another human.

http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/12/17/robot-telemarketer-samantha-west/

I work in AI myself and I find the quality of the responses to be too good to be fully automated.

Marek

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 12/02/2014 15:30:01 by _system »
 

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Feedback: Robotic telemarketer is not a robot
« Reply #9 on: 12/02/2014 15:30:01 »

 

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