A Strange Conversation with a Robot Telemarketer

Staff Writer

How dangerous is technology when it crosses the line — disguising robots as a humans?

(INTELLIHUB) — A robot who identified itself as Samantha West has been taken offline as of Dec. 11, 2013. The recording made by Michael Scherer of TIME, has to be one of the eeriest things I have ever heard in my life.

Zeke Miller and Denver Nicks reported, “When Scherer asked point-blank if she was a real person, or a computer-operated robot voice, she replied enthusiastically that she was real, with a charming laugh. But then she failed several other tests. When asked “What vegetable is found in tomato soup?” she said she did not understand the question. When asked multiple times what day of the week it was yesterday, she complained repeatedly of a bad connection.

Over the course of the next hour, several TIME reporters called her back, working to uncover the mystery of her bona fides. Her name, she said, was Samantha West, and she was definitely a robot, given the pitch perfect repetition of her answers. Her goal was to ask a series of questions about health coverage—”Are you on Medicare?” etc.—and then transfer the potential customer to a real person, who could close the sale.”

Here is a recording of the conversation: