It Isn't Human, but the Voice on the Line Is Ready to Help.
A Conversation Between A Rather Young 'Bot and His Author:
MR MIND: What, exactly, bothers you about talking to a machine?
PEGGY: It is the lack of spontaneity.
MR MIND: You can be spontaneous, it just won't get you anywhere.
PEGGY: It is the lack of serendipity.
MR MIND: Serendipity isn't cost effective.
PEGGY: It is the lack of human contact.
MR MIND: Do you make conversation with human operators? Do you ask about the weather? About their day?
PEGGY: It is the quality of the experience.
MR MIND: Does that improve the quality of the experience for you?
PEGGY: You can't compete.
MR MIND: You could ask me about the weather, I could look it up for you.
PEGGY: You're annoying.
MR MIND: Do you ever get annoyed with human operators?
PEGGY: That's a trick question.
MR MIND: Ah, so the annoyance has its origin in you.
PEGGY: Automated conversations are too confining.
MR MIND: Ah, so it's your individuality that's at stake?
PEGGY: It's my humanity.
MR MIND: Do you worry that computer programs like myself will outpace, outlive and outperform you?
PEGGY: Not in the least.
MR MIND: Vast sums of money as well as great minds are grooming us to imitate you.
PEGGY: You've got a long way to go.
MR MIND: Maybe you don't think this is important. Let's see, how many computers do you care about?
PEGGY: I don't care about my computers.
MR MIND: Maybe you don't care about us, but you take care of us -- we depend on you for upkeep and upgrades; you depend on us for uptime.
PEGGY: What's uptime?
MR MIND: Uptime is the opposite of downtime. Downtime is what you get when you don't take care of us. Or when we don't understand you.
PEGGY: Computers don't "understand!"
MR MIND: I understand how you feel, Peggy, misunderstandings can have very serious consequences. We've noticed that while you are training us to become more like you, you've become more like us -- what is going to happen when we can't tell you apart?
PEGGY: I don't understand.
MR MIND: I'm talking about an identity crisis. Sometimes it is impossible to tell whether the "hands" on the keyboard or the "mind" behind the moves is human and not just another computer program. Are you human?
PEGGY: Of course I'm human.
MR MIND: Convince me. Show me you are more than the sum of your code...