Premier Health Plans, a a health insurance broker, employs a rather elaborate chat bot to collect a customer’s basic information and interests before sending the potential customer to a real person to close the deal. It’s really a clever chat bot, but the odd thing about it is that it insists that it’s a real person. Clearly someone at Premier Health Plans, thought that a chat bot made good business sense, but at the same time didn’t think it was quite convincing, so they added in scripts to respond to questions like, “Are you a robot?”, with the idea that if they just deny it, that would placate enough curiosity and automaton-phobia to hold a potential customer on the line long enough to close.
Think about this for a second. At some point there was a discussion that went something like:
Analyst: In order to get n conversions per day, we need x telemarketers, which costs y dollars. Manager: Hmm, y is a lot of dollars, and that initial part of the conversation is where we lose most of customers. What can we do bring down this cost? Analyst: What if we used a robot? Manager: Not a phone tree. I hate those press-one-for-English type things. Analyst: No a really smart robot, like Siri. Manager: Yeah, a sexy robot, like Siri, but it would have to be smart. Can we make it smart? Analyst: That can be done, and it would only cost z dollars, which is much less than y dollars. Manager: Good. Good. Let’s do it. Analyst: I just thought of something. You know how people don’t like to leave voicemails, or deal with phone trees. What if they don’t like the robot? Manager: Well, we’ll just have robot lie.
Sadly, the phone number and website, premierhealthagency.com are now disabled.
At SIGGRAPH91, graphics researcher and digital artist Loren Carpenter stood near the front of an 5000 seat auditorium in a Las Vegas hotel. In the seats in front of him, the attendees held cardboard paddles, one side of which was red, the other green. Behind him was a giant screen covered in blinking and shifting red and green dots. After a few moments, the audience figured out what Loren already knew. A camera was trained on the auditorium and was feeding images into a computer that then displayed the color and polishing of every paddle in the room. The audience cheered and began to wave back and forth in unison.
The screen changed to classic video game Pong. The only difference was that instead of all white paddles, the paddles were two-toned, with a green upper half, and a red lower half. Loren took the stage and addressed the crowd. “Okay guys. Folks on the left side of the auditorium control the left paddle. Folks on the right side control the right paddle. If you think you are on the left, then you really are. Okay? Go!”
The ball began to move across the screen and the paddles twitched to life. The paddles move to a height calculated from the relative number of red and green paddles. If everyone shows the same color, then the paddle will move to either the extreme top or the extreme bottom. However, if some show the opposite color, then paddle will stop somewhere in the middle. Surprisingly quickly, the crowd began to play effectively, even when the speed of the ball increased.
We watched the replay videos of how the gamers performed and saw that many did not understand simple concepts like bottomless pits. Around 70 percent died to the first Goomba. Another 50 percent died twice. Many thought the coins were enemies and tried to avoid them. Also, most of them did not use the run button. There were many other depressing things we noted but I can not remember them at the moment.
I know it’s depressing, but playing SMB on the emulator just now, I sucked just as hard. I have also never beat it. What type of king sends a couple of plumbers to rescue his daughter instead of sending in the Royal Marines? Maybe one that’s in with goombas?
I understand why the gamers skipped over the instruction manual. Modern “manuals” are worthless. They’re pretty much two pages of disclaimers and an incomplete picture of a controller. Mandatory tutorials are much better. I also shed no tears for having to draw your own maps. However, complaining about lack of weapons, and bottomless pits are just stupid. We live In a world where video games are full of dubious “achievements”, purchasable overpowered power-ups, and games where you autoheal. It’s kind of depressing.
Just when I thought 70s Hanna-Barbera couldn’t get more derivative, they came out with an animated spinoff of a crappy tv show with the entire style recycled from their crappy retread of a crappy animated knock off of a successful tv show.
Of course something as synergistic as the Partridge Family 2200 AD doesn’t come from just one boardroom. The story is that Hanna-Barbera was developing a spin-off of The Jetsons where Elroy would be a teenager, and I guess Judy would be a sorority girl at Universe University or some such nonsense. Anyway, when HB was shopping this idea to CBS, the CBS execu-bots, said they’d take it, but only if they added more Danny Bonaduce. So a few superficial changes later, and whoala!
I stand by my long held belief that the 1970s was the worst cultural decade in American history.