The Daily Dump

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Thursday, August 17

Today’s Awkward Moment, Sponsored by Man’s Innate Pessimism

A commenter yesterday suggested that the “Santino” I spoke with yesterday via HP’s “chat with a technician” service was actually nothing more than a computer spitting out preprogrammed responses generated using keywords from my questions.

It hurt.

It made sense though: the robotic responses, the quick typing, the way he made me feel . . . But I couldn’t bring myself to accept it. The thought pained me that Santino, who had helped me so much and was, for those ten minutes, such a well-spring of knowledge and cheerfulness, could have been a conglomeration of circuitry and futuristic know-how. I had to find out for sure, and the only way I could think to do that was to get back on a chat with another HP technician.




(No response.)













And there you have it: proof that HP online technicians are, in fact, people too. And that while this world needs a lot of things, like renewable energy, a cure for AIDS, an emphasis on good core workouts and a foundation dedicated to saving the attractive girls from impoverished nations, maybe a good place to start would be with some trust in our fellow man.

Good work, Santino.

30 Comments:

You have nothing better to do than to tie up customer care so that real customers such as myself have to wait to chat with someone? You are a part of the problem.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:56 PM  

NO YOU ARE!

(Wait, do you mean the problem of wait time crippling the customer service industry, or the problem of escalating drug use in teenage movie stars? Because if it's the second on, yeah that's all me. My bad.)

By Blogger the belligerent intellectual, at 4:03 PM  

Hmmm. I'm still not convinced. It could be some sophisticated AI responding to your inquiries. You should try to trip it up with some more thorough questioning like in "Blade Runner". Try and provoke an emotional response.

By Blogger Derek, at 4:07 PM  

"And I miss him." Priceless!

By Blogger Kelly, at 4:16 PM  

I dunno. "Kasey" didn't try to flirt with you. Obvious sign that this "Kasey" lacked a pulse. Or true customer service killer instinct. It always worked for me.

By Blogger Gemini Prefect, at 4:26 PM  

Nevertheless, if "Kasey" is a real person, I bet you either made his day or really pissed him off.

By Blogger Jader, at 4:33 PM  

wait, was his name Santino or Centrino?

you know, the only real way to tell is if you have a Voight-Kampff machine. just sayin.

By Blogger ducklet, at 4:42 PM  

Oh, see, now you might be moving up the echelons of HP. Because Kasey with a K (if he's a guy) is a hot name. I've never met an ugly guy named Kasey. Santino, it could be hit or miss. Either that or they're both computers.

By Blogger Rebecca, at 4:47 PM  

My money's on Real Person.

But I also like rainbows and puppies.

By Blogger Cherry Ride, at 5:19 PM  

i don't know...i tend to think that it is a computer responding...

By Blogger Jessica, at 5:27 PM  

How could a computer respond: "No, it is not like that."? I mean, what programmer sat down and said, "What if someone asks if one of the fake tachnicians is angry with him? What response should we have?"

But of course, now you have me second guessing again. This is tearing me apart.

By Blogger the belligerent intellectual, at 5:38 PM  

I'm wondering if it's a computer with a human supervisor - you know, in case more sophisticated questions come up, the person can type in an answer.

Though "it is not like that" is a weird answer. I don't know. I think you need to get back online tomorrow and ask it more questions, then post the whole exchange here. I'd read that.

By Blogger Jaime, at 5:44 PM  

I think the grammar is way too formal for it to be a real person. But what do I know?

By Blogger Dara, at 6:02 PM  

BI, I'm sorry for stressing you out. I have worked on one of these automatic response systems. And after checking out HP, I'm not even sure. My guess is Jaime is right on. The chat is hosted by a company called "HP Global e-support, India". When a question can't be properly parsed, it gets passed to a human. A human with english as a second language. Notice, the stranger the question, the longer the response time.

With a straight ARS, some responses require a dynamic answer. Those are pretty hard to make, and they usually look pretty formal. Then, some questions allow using a base of set responses. Those were great because you could make them informal, yet still make sense. For instance, your "No, it is not like that." Mine would say things like "your mom."

This is the very essence of the Touring Test. In a nutshell, if a human can't tell the difference between a computer and a human, then that computer is said to have the intelligence of a human. Now, that is arguable and a gray area of Artificial Intelligence, but I think these online chat assistants are a fantastic experiment.

BTW, I got 'Rock' to say Fark.

By Blogger kyle, at 6:51 PM  

AWUH?

By Blogger [Disgrundled], at 7:00 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger sadielady, at 7:27 PM  

Try again tomorrow, and ask the same questions. See if you get another "it is not like that" response. Which is another awkward response, really. It sounds like something a cheating husband would say to his wife if she surprised him at his office and saw his secretary kneeling in front of him with her head in his lap ... "no, honey, wait - - it's not like that! we were just talking, and, and, she felt faint, and, and, she started to pass out, and her head just kind of fell into my lap ... baby, wait, come back! IT'S NOT LIKE THAT!!!"

By Blogger sadielady, at 7:29 PM  

"Anonymous" needs to take the stick out of his or her ass. Seriously.

You know, Santino was this creepy guy on Project Runway last season. Maybe this is his new job?

By Blogger liberalbanana, at 8:08 PM  

people settle down - it's a real person in an outsourced job in india who doesn't know american slang - hense the "no it's not like that" phrasing

By Anonymous always thinkin', at 8:23 PM  

Okay, Crazy - Santino Rice (Creepy Designer from last season's Project Runway. A tremendous show BTW) doesn't work for HP, in India or Los Angeles (where he lives).
He'd couldn't get a job with HP. As Santino says "You can't polish a turd".

Make it work,
Anon.jr.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:32 PM  

hmmm i don't know what i am inclined to think except that you should try this again. and i like the idea of asking random questions.
who knows.

By Blogger Kawaii desu ne, at 9:21 AM  

makes me wonder if the live text chatter has an accent, like when I call DELL tech support...everyone has an 'accent' and I will leave it at that

By Blogger KitKatWoman, at 11:31 AM  

I think you should ask how the weather is and see what kind of response you get. ask what color shirt he is wearing. Something that requires a detailed response. Then, and ONLY then will you truly know

By Blogger Softball Slut, at 12:27 PM  

You are rocking my world. I don't know what to think anymore. Not only do I not know if an actual person assists with online chat... but, moreover, I'm not even sure I believe you typed that conversation. I tend to believe you fabricated the whole thing -- because really, that was too funny. People aren't that funny in real life. :)

But, let's say you DID actually type that conversation, I promise you there are some Indian guys having a hearty chuckle. Way to do your part to bring about world peace.

By Blogger undercover celebrity, at 12:45 PM  

I am more convinced than ever that it's a computer. I think some computer programmer tried to come up with a blanket response that could cover a variety of unanswerable questions. "No, it's not like that" is not something a real person would say in that situation. Were you accusing Kasey of trying to steal your heart from Santino...maybe it would apply.

Professional attitude or no, if you ask if someone else is mad at you, the usual response would be "No, he's not mad at you." Or "He has a headache FOREVER." (probably the former, since this is HP we're talking about)

And, "I am here to assist you" is so blanket customer service, yet so out of context there that it's obviously preprogrammed.

Even better than trying to ask more random and outlandish questions, try going on and having the exact same conversation with someone else. If you get the same responses, or very, very similar ones, get used to calling yourself a robosexual.

By Blogger smilelikeadonut, at 3:09 PM  

i'm laughing. laughing so hard my cheeks are wet with tears.

in public.

i hate you.

By Blogger heather, at 3:50 PM  

While i"m cracking up, especially over the ' I miss him" comment; now I too am wondering if all of my 'wonderful helpers' have been AI!

I'd feel dumb for falling for it! ha. Do it again, its hilarious!

By Blogger Sarah, at 3:58 PM  

Keep in mind a lot of the tech folks are in india or other countries where they actually learn to speak english in a formal way rather than the way the rest of us fo shizzle it.

By Blogger Carrie Broadshoulders, at 4:02 PM  

I think it is a real person. I once had to chat with someone on Overstock.com. By the way, NEVER shop on that site. Anyway, I was PISSED and cursing and the person was telling me to calm down and all this other stuff. Unless, like you said, some technician knew one day some loud mouth Italian broad would call the site a "cocksucking piece of shit" and they were ready with an automated answer. Overall, my bet is on a real person.

By Blogger Naynayfazz, at 12:41 AM  

Good work Wattson!

By Blogger Brandi Love, at 6:25 PM  

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