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Online bots: It’s not nice to fool your customer June 30, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Information Technology, Management, Software, Technology, Web.

RobotMany years ago (1950), before most of the readers of this blog were born, a computer scientist named Alan Turing came up with a test for artificial intelligence and computers. It became known as the Turing Test of artificial intelligence.

Here’s what the Cross-Currents blog wrote about it, “In 1950, Alan Turing devised a straight forward test for artificial intelligence: a person sitting at a terminal, engaged in conversation (what we would call today an Instant Messaging chat), is unable to determine that he or she is conversing with a computer rather than another human being. He also predicted that by the year 2000, a computer could fool the person for at least five minutes roughly 70% of the time.”

Why do I mention the Turing test? Because, I just read this interesting post by Rob over on the Business Pundant blog. He shared his experience with a customer service center that had an online “operator” that provided live chat sessions with customers. Since Rob is a little more savvy than the average customer, Rob determined that his answers were coming from a preprogrammed software robot (or bot) and that there wasn’t any live person on the other end reading his questions or typing answers.

Now, it that possible? Sure! But, is it ethical? Well, not really. Especially if the company advertises that they have live people responding to customer service chat sessions. I am certain online bots are used because companies can save a lot of money and can handle 100 (or 1,000) times more customers than they could or would with live operators.

What do you think? Have you ever thought that the customer service chat session you were having was a little strange and wondered if it wasn’t just a bot that you were complaining to?



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