It’s fun to joke about robots eventually killing us all. But the truth is that robots are nothing more than machines following sets of rules. And occasionally, they’re put in a spot where you feel pretty bad for the robot, like “Samantha,” a robocaller who wants nothing more than to be a real girl.
Part of a robocalling campaign, “Samantha” made the mistake of calling Michael Scherer, Time’s Washington Bureau Chief. What ensued is more or less one of those moments when a meme sweeps the office, according to Time.
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.
The really sad part is that Time recorded a few of these calls, and it’s pretty obvious something is fishy right from the start. Here’s one of the calls:
You might notice that Samantha takes long, awkward pauses in between each question; that’s because the robocaller doesn’t know how to handle Scherer going “off-script”, so to speak. Notice that whenever you press her to prove her humanity, she complains, in a fit of irony, about a bad connection.
Interestingly, when Time followed up, the company in question denied making robocalls. After some pressing, the number was suddenly disconnected and the website taken down. But we doubt we’ve heard the last of “Samantha”, even if she’ll likely change her name.
(Image courtesy of saeru on Flickr)