IBM's Watson to become telemarketer?

Some of the more difficult humans on Earth, telemarketers, might soon be replaced by a geek god, IBM's Watson supercomputer.

You're sitting at dinner. The phone rings. You don't recognize the number. Who can it possibly be?

Either the lover of your dreams or, slightly more likely, someone trying to sell you a landline to add to your cable package.

And yet, it might well be that this won't be some ordinary telemarketer. It might be the infamous "Jeopardy" player, Watson, the IBM supercomputer.

The way ExtremeTech tells it, Watson is being groomed for even lower things than game shows.

For IBM reportedly has a dream of turning him into the world's most efficient (if not most charming) member of the telemarketing and customer support community.

A reminder of Watson's leap into tabloid fame. Caroline McCarthy/CNET

It seems that IBM is conscious of the fact that telemarketers and sales people are imperfect beings. Unlike the company's own swotty little machine, they don't have all the answers. Sometimes, indeed, they have no answers at all--at least none beyond the script that is perched in front of them in their sweaty little cubicles.

Anyone who watched the desperate spectacle that was Watson's appearance on "Jeopardy" will realize that the computer speaks like Mogadon Man. He has all the character of an own-brand paper towel.

So the mere thought of having one's evening tofu intercepted by this character might make some want to move to just east of Moeraki, New Zealand.

IBM's defense, naturally, will be that at least he will be able to answer all of your questions, given that his DeepQA software will be stuffed to the metal gills with information--and crucially, some level of understanding of the way we human beings put things. The company might have a point.

Just imagine just how much he'd know about every single spec of every single, for example, cell phone data plan. Just imagine that, with the right programming, he might tell you the actual truth about which car insurance plan is best for you. And he'd surely never get offended if you slam the phone down on him, nor would he show irritation when some real human might lose his temper.

As I understand it, Watson might well have already scored his first telemarketing gig. He will be attempting to cold call companies and interest them in a new IBM product.

That product? Why, Watson the telemarketer, of course.

 

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