Humans That Fail the Turing Test

I went to bCentral looking for a discussion mailing list for the PVPOA. While I was there, a popup said that a person would love to live-chat with me and solve all my problems. I took them up on the offer. I started chatting with “Micky”. After just a few exchanges, I got this feeling like I was talking to Eliza. You remember Eliza… the first electronic psychologist. Here, feel the creepiness for yourself:

Thank you for contacting Microsoft bCentral.
Below is a copy of our transcript.

Topic: I would like to have an automated announcement mailing list and a discussion mailing list. Each for about 200 people. Can bCentral do this for me and for how much?

Micky Hello Lee. I’m Micky. Welcome to bCentral live support.
Micky I’ve received your question and am glad to assist you.
Lee Hi Micky!
Micky In order to serve you effectively, I’d need further clarification about your issue. [Notice how she didn’t mention what she needed clarification on? Suspicious!]
Lee I’m looking for a mailing list manager service like Majordomo or Listserv…
Micky Okay. Please continue, Lee. [If this isn’t Eliza talking, them I’m a schnauzer with a limp.]
Lee Micky, are you a real human?
Micky Yes, I’m a real person out here. [you KNOW that was a canned response! Ha! Eliza says exactly the same thing!]
Micky What I’ve understood so far, is that you need a service that would help you manage your mailing list. [Obvious bad AI. The program constructed the sentence. It’s totally canned right up until “need”.]
Micky Am I correct in saying so? [Automated psycho-babble filler.]
Lee Yes. exactly.
Micky Thanks for the confirmation. []
Micky Well, bCentral does provide a service – List Builder, that enables you to manage your mailing list, in order to send email newsletters to potential subscribers. [That’s almost what I asked… A human would have been more specific.]
Lee How can I find out more info about it? Is there a website?
Micky With List Builder service, you’d receive tools that can make launching an e-mail marketing campaign a snap. [Captain, all power to the main sales guns!]
Micky Sure. Here is a page that provides detailed information about this bCentral service.
Micky Lee, I’ve sent across the page that has details about the features as well as pricing of List Builder service.
Micky It should appear to the left of our chat window.
Lee You know, this conversation is pretty weird. You’re only getting a C- on the Turing Test. Thanks for the address.
Micky I’m sorry about not being able to promptly answer your questions. [Again, Eliz.. Micky almost understood the question. Context is a difficult mistress.]
Micky Lee, as far as the other question is concerned about managing a ‘discussion mailing list’ could you please elaborate about this, so that I could assist you appropriately? [Wow, this question gets me really excited about AI. “Micky” was able to parse my initial query and knew that I wanted two things.]

[at this point, I accidentally got bumped off the system. My fault.]

Micky YOur response will help me to assist you better.
Micky I really don’t intend to rush you through this, but, I haven’t heard back from you since quite some time.
Micky Are you there online with me?
Micky It seems that you’ve been disconnected from this chat session.
Micky You can always contact our Presales team via phone at the number for further information about this service, before signing up.
Micky The number is 1-866-bCentral (1-866-223-6872), Monday-Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Pacific time. It is a Toll Free Number.
Micky I’m sorry for not being able to assist you any further.
Micky Feel free to login again for assistance.
Micky I’m sorry that we couldn’t finish our discussion, Lee. Thanks for coming to bCentral Live Support. Please come back if you need assistance again. Have a nice day! [I wish this session had timestamps. I’d bet that this closing monologue would have had stamps like 17:34:06, 17:34:11, 17:34:16, 17:34:21…]


Since I got bumped before getting the info I needed, I jacked in again.

Thank you for contacting Microsoft bCentral.
Below is a copy of our transcript.

Topic: I would like to have an automated announcement mailing list and a discussion mailing list. Each for about 200 people. Can bCentral do this for me and for how much?

Lee Ah, Micky. We got disconnected. Sorry!
Micky Hello Lee. I’m Micky. Welcome back to bCentral live support. [Eliza’s intersession memory really startled me the first time I saw it. It’s a nice trick.]
Micky No problem.
I’ve received your question and am looking forward to assist you again. [Canned up to “to”]
Lee Go on… [I got into the Eliza act. Of course what I SHOULD have said was, “Tell me about your assist you again.”]
Micky Pertaining to your question, I’d need further clarification about what you exactly are you referring to by saying ‘discussion mailing list’. [Proof that this AI isn’t sophisticated enough yet. This should have been in Micky’s database as a virtually 100% confirmed keyword.]
Micky Is it that you wish to hold discussions amongst a group of subscribers?
Lee Yes.
Micky Thanks for the confirmation.
Micky Please give me a couple of minutes to look into this request and assist you accordingly. [Just like old Star Trek. “Working…. working….” hehe. Nice touch!]
Lee OK. I’ll be here.
Micky Thanks.
Micky Thanks, once again. Pertaining to the feature you are looking for, about managing discussion lists, bCentral does provide a service – Sharepoint team service.
Lee Oh good. Tell me more! [I should have known better. “Tell me more!” gets translated into “Switch to verbose mode,” and no AI is good enough to do a good verbose mode yet. They always sound like they’re getting wildly off-topic.]
Micky With Sharepoint team services, you’d be able to manage an Intranet website, wherein you could manage discussions. However, these discussions, wouldn’t be identical to interactive chats.
Micky These discussions would be something like this. You’d post a topic for discussing, and authenticated users would be able to post their comments about this topic.
Micky Lee, the main administrator would be able to view the domments posted by all participants for these discussions.
Micky Although, I’d like to clarify that you’d either be able to limit the maximum number of authenticated users to 20.
Micky Alternatively, you’d be able to enable ‘anonymous access settings’ and then, more than 20 users could participate in this discussion, However, you’d not be able to determine the name of these anonymous users in case ‘Anonymous access settings’ are enabled.
Micky For further information, you might want to review the page providing additional details about this bCentral service.
Lee Ok… the limitations sound a bit weird but I’m still listening…. [What I SHOULD have said was, “For the love of all life in the universe, end verbose mode! Begin terse mode!]
Lee I’m looking into the SharePoint site now.
Micky Here’s the page for you.
Micky It would appear to the left of our chat window.
Micky Lee, you might want to review this page in detail at a later time.
Micky For your convenience, our entire chat transcript would be emailed to you, as soon as this session ends. So, you’d be able to access all this information.
Lee I’m not looking for groupware… I don’t think bCentral is for me.
Micky Well, I’m sorry to learn that the features provided as of now, are not upto your expectations.
Micky We really appreciate the time you’ve taken to help us know the opportunities to improvise our services. [Even computers give you “Dear John” letters when they realize they can’t get anything out of you.]
Micky Lee, bCentral works to add new features and services that would benefit all business owners.
Micky Thanks for your valuable feedback!
Micky Do let me know if there is any other information pertaining to bCentral, I could provide you with.
Micky Thanks for your valuable time. Feel free to login again for assistance.
Micky Thanks for using bCentral Live Support. We are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Have a great day! Bye Lee, take care.


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