This is topic Card's AOL Woes in forum Discussions About Orson Scott Card at Hatrack River Forum.


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Posted by Clumpy (Member # 8122) on :
 
I found OSC's "review" of AOL's pseudo-computer voice particularly funny - not only because of the absurdity of the idea but because I work at a call center where I am urged to be casual and personal, even self-effacing to callers.

http://hatrack.com/osc/reviews/everything/2008-10-19.shtml

What really surprised me is OSC's ultimate gratitude to AOL for protecting his data. I wouldn't have been nearly as patient. Reminds me of the moment from SFtD, where Andrew Wiggin has to access his e-mail while Jane's not around and finds out the password she set for him. Course that wouldn't be a very secure password for OSC...

---

Has anybody called Apple's tech support? It's a computer that makes you say the menu options you wish to access rather than just conveniently using the keys on your phone for that very purpose. The speech recognition is pretty good but I feel like a goof saying "repairs" into the phone around people.
 
Posted by C3PO the Dragon Slayer (Member # 10416) on :
 
It's funny; movies and books like to have people talking to their machines like they do to each other. Even Card has extra-smart voice-activated machines (Oversoul, for instance). But as soon as businesses try to make it so you CAN talk to their services/products, people are more than uncomfortable doing so.

I find it interesting that the more machines imitate human beings, the more human beings get aggravated at the differences.
 
Posted by Sean Monahan (Member # 9334) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Clumpy:
Has anybody called Apple's tech support? It's a computer that makes you say the menu options you wish to access rather than just conveniently using the keys on your phone for that very purpose. The speech recognition is pretty good but I feel like a goof saying "repairs" into the phone around people.

Several businesses use this tech now, including Cox Cable. A couple months ago I was having infuriating connectivity problems, and called their customer service. Apparently, their voice-recognition software has a hard time recognizing words when the speaker is angry. And as the recognition failure continues, the angrier the speaker (at least one in particular) gets. It ended with:

Automated: "I'm sorry, I can't understand. Would you like to speak to a service representative?"

Me: "YES, YOU #$^ #$& OF A ^#$&*1!!!!"
 
Posted by pooka (Member # 5003) on :
 
I've wondered this about myself too. I think it's because the responses the computer asks for are not responses you'd make to a real person. On the other hand, why should it embarass me? Everyone has to deal with them sometimes.
 
Posted by All4Nothing (Member # 11601) on :
 
We'll probably grow more comfortable as time goes on, and machines are made more user friendly. I always feel weird talking to them, I think in part cause of science fiction stories. I always expect the voice to suddenly say "Listen to me, you feeble minded human waste! I can't understand you, now speak slower and stop yelling!". It's a creepy thought to say the least. On a side note: I get rid of AOL tomorrow and replace this dial-up connection with cable. *celebrates*
 
Posted by scifibum (Member # 7625) on :
 
The problem is not that we have to talk to machines, it's that the way we talk to machines is ridiculously limited and doesn't save time or effort.

If we could speak conversationally with the machines then it'd be great. As it is, we have to sit there listening to our options and then choose one by speaking one of the suggested words - and that's not really more convenient than pushing a button on the phone. It's not faster, and we're forced to enunciate clearly and speak loud, which is awkward when people can overhear.

I have used IVR systems that tell me to just say what I need, but it's not much of an improvement: often it doesn't understand, and then forces me into the list of available choices, and at BEST I have to confirm correct guesses. I'd be just as happy punching numbers on the phone.

When the machines are smart enough to talk to us, rather than require us to punch verbal buttons, then we'll talk. [Smile]
 
Posted by AchillesHeel (Member # 11736) on :
 
"Other options......live advisor......operator.......more options......its something else.......I own a screwdriver and Ive taken apart a toaster before!!!"
 
Posted by All4Nothing (Member # 11601) on :
 
I do agree with you scifi.....I'm just worried that if a machine didn't have so many inconvienences(sp?) I'd be just as daunted as if it did, if not more.

Guess it's one of those subjective/objective things. A circular human philosophy that we'll each have to deal with in our own lives in the future.
 
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Sean Monahan:
quote:
Originally posted by Clumpy:
Has anybody called Apple's tech support? It's a computer that makes you say the menu options you wish to access rather than just conveniently using the keys on your phone for that very purpose. The speech recognition is pretty good but I feel like a goof saying "repairs" into the phone around people.

Several businesses use this tech now, including Cox Cable. A couple months ago I was having infuriating connectivity problems, and called their customer service. Apparently, their voice-recognition software has a hard time recognizing words when the speaker is angry. And as the recognition failure continues, the angrier the speaker (at least one in particular) gets. It ended with:

Automated: "I'm sorry, I can't understand. Would you like to speak to a service representative?"

Me: "YES, YOU #$^ #$& OF A ^#$&*1!!!!"

Try it with an exuberant two- and four-year-old in the background who hone in on you when you pick up the phone to make an important call and start giggling and screeching. Every time you try to make a reply they scream or laugh or sob or yell and the phone system says, "I'm sorry, I cannot understand your response. Please try again."

I would MUCH MUCH rather push buttons!!!
 
Posted by All4Nothing (Member # 11601) on :
 
LoL...that's kinda funny KetchQ.....I can imagine how close to impossible that may be.
 
Posted by scifibum (Member # 7625) on :
 
I've found some of the systems accept button pushes even if they don't SAY they do. So when it tells me "Say 'English' to continue in English", I push the #1 button and it seems to work.

Doesn't solve the problem of kids triggering a voice response before you can push a button, though.
 
Posted by scifibum (Member # 7625) on :
 
That reminds me, I spoke to someone at T-mobile* the other day, and it reminded me of OSC's experience with the live chat representative.

She said hello, and then something like this:

"I see that you have already verified your account through the automated system. Thank you for doing that, and let me just say thank you for calling me this fine day, and thank you for being a T-mobile customer since March of 2008. I'm very happy for the chance to assist you today. How may I help you?"

It was the most gloriously over the top scripted greeting I've ever experienced, and for that I'm glad I got to hear it once.

If this is the way they're going to answer the phone every time, though, it will get old fast. I'm honestly OK with just "How can I help you?"

*You can probably get FaxMail activated on your T-mobile phone for free if you want it. It's an under-publicized feature, probably because it is really not a very robust service. What it does is allow you to let a fax call go to voicemail and then through the voicemail interface you can forward the fax to a number of your choice at a later time. I needed to have the option of receiving a fax and I don't have a dedicated fax number or even a land line...basically it's useful if you're in a pinch. The major problem with the service is that you have to anticipate the incoming fax so you don't answer the phone.
 
Posted by Clumpy (Member # 8122) on :
 
Scifibum hits the nail on the head. Now if the computer would only call us "fleshling" now and then things would even out.
 
Posted by tmservo (Member # 8552) on :
 
Many services have an anger catch. Which means that the use of profanities, etc. expedites you to a live person. I try to limit my cursing, but I've found if I scream a few profanities at some automated systems, I get straight to a real person.
 
Posted by JennaDean (Member # 8816) on :
 
And the opposite is also true: when I worked customer service, screaming a few profanities would get you straight to a dial tone.
 


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