Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagAnne Scherer

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woman with gray hair in green jumper talking to the digital virtual assistant at home, asking a question or requesting to switch music. Smart AI speaker concept and voice command control

Automated “Caring”: The Limits of Talking to a Machine

Are there situations where a person would simply prefer to talk to a machine? Some researchers think so

“Just get me to a human!” Those were my words just a few weeks ago, the last time I can recall speaking directly to a machine. It was the Xfinity phone system assistant. I get that there’s a need for large national corporations to effectively manage interactions with their customers, especially with the labor shortages and spikes in internet usage brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. But leaving me to fend for myself with a machine – especially a stubborn, unhelpful one! – isn’t my idea of superior customer service. Eventually, the Comcast assistant got the drift and passed me on to a human being, who quickly and kindly helped me out by doing exactly what the machine said could…