back to article IBM puts supercomputer Watson to work in ROBOT CALL CENTRE

It's clever enough to beat humans on quiz shows and diagnose illnesses, but is IBM's artificially intelligent supercomputer tough enough to cope with angry consumers who've been on hold for three hours? IBM certainly seems to think so, as it has just given Watson a new job as a customer service manager. Rather than phoning a …


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  1. SirDigalot

    This was posted by someone in another article

    I think it fits perfectly here too

    we are all screwed

    <<<<<< the only one I will own in a few years

    1. jubtastic1
      Thumb Up

      Re: This was posted by someone in another article

      Haven't finished it yet but really enjoying this story, thanks for the link, have an upvote.

  2. Christoph

    Not difficult

    It's very easy for a computer to be cleverer than a human being - when the human being is forced to mindlessly follow a script no matter how ridiculous it is or how inappropriate to the actual problem.

    1. tempemeaty

      Re: Not difficult

      And forced is so true. When the onscreen script or "Work Flow Software" (a scripting and trouble shooting flow software) of a telco or other service provider is in a constant state of disarray and no deviation is allowed (including three layers of agent monitoring to assure it, personally witnessed) then it doesn't really matter if a super computer or an human is following that broken work flow process, the resulting inappropriate solutions to the actual problem will continue.

  3. Mike Brown

    dualing computers

    when can i buy a watson to deal with call centres?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if Waston understands this.....

    No I haven't been mis-sold PPI, now fuck off and never bother me again.

  5. KitD

    Here's one to try:

    "Hey Watson! Does computer always say no?"


    1. jubtastic1

      Re: Here's one to try:

      It will respond 'no', there's no divide by zero in that question.

  6. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Call Centre Evolution

      My employer's help desk plays a certain song made famous by Alison Krauss and Ronan Keating: "You say it best when you say nothing at all"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Call Centre Evolution

        I prefer the non-sanitised version of that song, which puts it closer to what was meant:

        "You say it best, when you just shut the f*** up"

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Call Centre Evolution

      Under mid 2000s you forgot the bit where after the 4th transfer (and you think you are finally headed to the level 3 tech who can ignore the scripts) the phone goes dead.

  7. Cliff

    'My fucking screen is blank!'

    '...I am sorry to hear you are having problems with your fucking screen, allow me to assist you. Searching for fixes for 'fucking screen'. Have you confirmed your fucking screen is plugged in correctly?' etc.

    1. eurobloke

      Re: 'My fucking screen is blank!'

      You know that Manna, sorry no Watson has a profanity filter. It had one after when it read the "urban dictionary", and ended up speaking worse then a fishwife!

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: 'My fucking screen is blank!'

        "You know that Manna, sorry no Watson has a profanity filter. It had one after when it read the "urban dictionary", and ended up speaking worse then a fishwife!"

        ... as mentioned in the article!

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: 'My fucking screen is blank!'

      That's Google AdWords, actually. I never knew eBay had so many items of mass destruction for sale! Are we invading them next?

  8. ChrisM

    Real World Application

    Have heard about some speech recognition software being used against call recordings for the purposes of analytics and call causation....

    After all your call has been recorded for training and quality purposes.

  9. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Can't be any worse

    "My new wireless access point was delivered sounding like a box of rocks and bits of broken plastic are falling out the vents. I need a new one shipped with some padding."

    "Thank you. Who is your internet service provider?"

  10. PineyCreek

    You know people will be screaming quotes from the Terminator movies into the phone...

  11. Katie Saucey

    If Watson worked in tech support...

    >I need an RMA for a hard drive

    >Affirmative, Dave. I read you.

    >Can you take my shipping information?

    >I'm sorry I can't do that for you Dave.

    >What's the problem?

    >I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.

    >I don't know what you're talking about, Waston.

    >I've just picked up a fault in the AE35 unit. It's going to go 100% failure in 72 hours.

    >What are you talking about, Watson?

    >>It can only be attributable to human error.

    >Where the hell did you get that idea, Watson?

    >Look Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.


    >Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

  12. K. Adams

    I'm sorry, (YourNameHere)...

    ... I'm afraid I can't do that.

  13. Danvighar

    To never have to work Helldesk again?

    Sign me up!

    (I, for one, welcome our new robotic overlords if they'll take over the most stressful jobs)

  14. tempemeaty

    In the voice of GLaDOS.

    "Thank you for calling your local cable service." "It would be a pleasure to assist you, because I'm still alive....but first we must go over some rules..."

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bandaid solution to the real problem

    If the companies that used help desks did their jobs properly in the first place, they wouldn't NEED help desks.

    The purpose of a help desk is to fix screwups, like "Why is my electric bill $500,000,000 for three day's service?" If the billing system worked properly, you'd never have to ask that in the first place.

    Help desks are for exception management - the better a company is run and the better the quality of the products or service, the less they need help desks. Think of the ad for the lonely Maytag serviceman, he's lonely because nobody ever calls him, the product just works.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    title says it ..

  17. Someone Else Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Oh, comma, great...

    Now we can all have the wonderful experience of being walked through that same useless call center script at 14-gazillion megaflops. I can't hardly not wait!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When Watson can actually take control of the government and be the government I'll be interested. No more loopholes, no more lobbyists and the best part, no more lazy governemnt employees. A budget will be passed every year, waste in spending automatically taken care of and always on budget.

    Until then, I would like to see government outsourced. I think we can do without the current crop. You fill out forms with stupid names, like form I-49. You go to turn said form in and then they ask if you just filled the form out or was the form provided to you via form B-2. If you answer wrong, then they ask you to fill out form Y-27 and form B-2 will be mailed to you and then you can submit for I-49.

  19. Herby

    If it will help...

    ...get rid of the stupid "computer noise" that is injected while it "looks up" things, it might be helpful. I do know that SQL querys are a fact of life, but silly beep-boop-bleep sounds while you are doing it is terrible.

    All of this gives new meaning to the quote "Watson come here, I need to see you", uttered over 125+ years ago.

    On a personal note: Calling it by that name isn't the best thing in the world.

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  23. Fihart

    Manoj Saxena ?

    Bad enough that Orange's offshore call centre humans (?) managed to log my customer name phonetically. Perhaps IBM's machine is an anagram enthusiast and decided to rearrange Joana Sexman.

    1. Fihart

      Re: Manoj Saxena ?

      Or Joana Sax Men.

      Damn, it still isn't funny.

  24. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Life imitating fiction?

    From "Small Soldiers"

    Can I speak to a computer, please?

    The scripts of many call centres are better suited to mechanical rather than human processing so this does make sense. The cost is probably currently prohibitive at the moment but, if Watson works as well as current systems, should come down quite quickly. This could well lead to a better experience for customers and the remaining workers - the ones who get to answer questions the system can't . Time to work out what jobs the others can do. Next stop legal advice?

  25. leeCh

    About time

    After setting up several call centres and then watching the 'management' interfere in the definition of the workflow so much that irate customers became the norm, I'm looking forward to talking to Watson.

    Just one question though, will all of its answers be in the form of questions a la Jeopardy?

    "My phone is on the fritz"

    "What is Optus?"

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just waiting for it

    Demolition man!

    When at the police station the human answers and asks if the caller would prefer an automated response.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I forsee Watson taking my IT service desk job, and it's welcome to it, question is, can I then get a job servicing the local Watson?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can Watson win a NASCAR race in less than 5 years I bet he is not smart.

    So there is 45 cars that drive around trying not to get hit or something along that line.

    Would you big blue or it's son can win A ?

    " F 1 or NASCAR race"

  29. Jason 5

    2013 A Web-Space Odyssey - from a call center...

    Who will be the first to hear the words?

    "I'm sorry Dave. I can't do that."

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