‘I am a real person. Can you hear me okay?’ Spooky telemarketing robots programmed to lie

Typically, when you receive a call from a robot telemarketer, you hang up. But Time magazine’s Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer decided to engage what he suspected to be a health insurance related robocall, and when he accused the telemarketer, who identified herself as Samantha West, of being a robot, hilarity ensued.

“Yesterday, I asked you was there anything about Obamacare that’s real. Is there anything that’s real, that’s honest, anything? I haven’t found it yet,” Glenn said on radio this morning. “Today, I get up and I come in and I said, ‘Pat, have you heard the robocalls?’ And he said, ‘What are you talking about?’ I said, ‘Go to TheBlaze and look for the robots.’ It is both hysterical and terrifying at the same time.”

The robocall did not come from the Obama Administration itself, but rather a private Florida company, Premier Health Plans Inc., that is looking to sign people up for the Obamacare exchanges. Time is reporting it conducted several tests and follow-up calls before determining that ‘Samantha West’ is in fact a robot:

When Scherer asked point blank if she was a real person, or a computer-operated robot voice, she replied enthusiastically that she was real, with a charming laugh. But then she failed several other tests. When asked “What vegetable is found in tomato soup?” she said she did not understand the question. When asked multiple times what day of the week it was yesterday, she complained repeatedly of a bad connection.

Over the course of the next hour, several TIME reporters called her back, working to uncover the mystery of her bona fides. Her name, she said, was Samantha West, and she was definitely a robot, given the pitch perfect repetition of her answers. Her goal was to ask a series of questions about health coverage—”Are you on Medicare?” etc.—and then transfer the potential customer to a real person, who could close the sale.

“These are machines that are programmed to sound like a real person… However, the robots have been programmed to lie,” Glenn said. “So here’s what’s disturbing. The guy figures this out, and he asks, ‘Are you a robot?’ The robot laughs and then says, ‘I am a real person.’ Now, it’s subtle because it’s really, really good, but this is the approaching singularity here. You’re not going to be able to tell the difference between virtual reality and reality reality. You’re not going to know who’s real and who’s not. Now you can tell because of the series of questions. He calls back several times.”

Take a listen to some of Scherer’s conversations with the telemarketer below:

While there has been some debate as to whether ‘Samantha West’ is an actual robot or a human being who is responding with a soundboard of different pre-recorded messages, it is clear technology has advanced and is continuing to advance to a level in which the lines between real and fake will be blurred.

“Listen to that… This is an amazing,” Glenn said. “Now let me ask you something. When I would say that you are not going to know the difference in the coming years – you will not know the difference between reality robotics. You won’t know the difference between reality and virtual reality. There will be no difference.”

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  • http://www.artinphoenix.com/gallery/grimm snowleopard (cat folk gallery)

    While in part it is funny, it also shows how close to the singularity we are coming, and how fast as well.

  • landofaahs

    Lying robots mean they must all be democrats.

  • Max80919

    The rise of the machines, in the hands of progressives. Be afraid, be very afraid.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8FvmesaxXg Sam Fisher

    Don’t we have lying robots already? They all voted for Obama.

  • Anonymous

    I hate to tell everyone this but these are REAL PEOPLE! It’s just that they have been brain washed by liberalism so much that they sound like robots. This is a perfect example as to what happens to the human brain once you suck in too much liberalism. Your free will and independence is taken away from you and you become like the Borg from Star Trek. Resistance is futile if your a liberal!

  • Doris C

    This is scary because of the ways it may be used. One hint I use when I get calls on my cell phone, If it says unavailable then so am I.

  • Diane H

    Can we please stop the waste of taxpayer money and unplug this disaster?

  • grassroot

    Best to not pick up the phone when you see the number and it’s not familiar. i do that all the time.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, but this is a real person… just not live. It’s an interactive voice recording (IVR), I see audition notices for this sometimes. Questions and full responses are recorded and play back according to keywords. The algorithm is still bit slow, note the pause before every response while the system is “thinking” and the fact that it doesn’t interrupt. So not robots, just programs built from thousands of live calls.

  • grassroot

    and the Liberal Fascists,,

  • grassroot

    Or,, pick up and say, ” Please leave a number, and then say beeep”

  • Anonymous

    If you like your robot – you can keep your robot….

  • Anonymous

    Why does it have to lie? What’s the point.

  • Anonymous

    Let me see if I understand you correctly…These are NOT robots, but rather digital recordings of “real” people, which are stored on a computer (a machine), and are then accessed by a program “algorithm” according to “keywords” from the very “real” caller. So, if these “real” voices are stored digitally on a MACHINE, then accessed as you describe, according to that “algorithm”, and a ROBOT is a digitally operated MACHINE which ALSO responds – according to a program “algorithm” – to “keywords” either spoken or typed by a “real” person, then these two concepts of “virtual reality” are, after all, DIFFERENT? Hmmm…did I miss something? The way I see it, it makes no difference exactly HOW it is created or WHAT you want to call it, you still have a digital MACHINE that is accessing digitally stored responses, misrepresenting itself…and doing the lying, too! A machine is a machine is a machine… But thanks for the “real” insight…it makes me feel much better!

  • Anonymous

    That’ll be the day when computer robots are smarter than humans. Even this robot has to be programmed by a human, but it cannot think like a human being. Obviously, a lot of memory is stored within this robot, but if you ask a question that isn’t programmedinto the system, the robot breaks! The definition of singularity does not apply to this example.

  • Anonymous

    Hey, 9adam83, I think I appreciate your explanation more than that offered by “shock_talk” above. Yours just makes everything seem so…uhhh…real? (If one can use that term to describe liberals who know only their “approved talking points”, and just can’t understand any view that challenges that!) Thanks much for your insight!

  • Anonymous

    You need to widen your horizons. A “robot” is nothing more than a device that does the work of a human. That the device is digital rather than mechanical makes no difference. You are not speaking to a human being.

  • Anonymous

    The machine didn’t lie, it just deflected the question. How many of US would be the same way if we were accused of being a robot? Somebody should really ask why this guy thinks tis is so darned important. Because it really isn’t.

  • RPW


  • stewames .

    This is TOO funny. Just this afternoon I got exactly the same call . I realized immediately that she was a robot and said it. She laughed and said “I am a real person.” I asked again, exactly the same answer. When I asked, ” Then do you know I’m on the federal NO CALL list?”, there was a long pause, and the line went dead.

  • Rhonda Renee Sessions

    This is how the Antichrist will be able to fool the select. Where he will suffer a fatal head wound, and be able to come back to life. Through a robot with the technology to be able to interact with people as if he is alive and human.

  • Rhonda Renee Sessions

    Yep, I let the caller talk to MY robot (my digital answering machine), and it gets the same response… a hang-up.

  • cpovet

    Wonder when “it” will become “self aware”? Terminater???

  • Fat Lip

    !00% on that brother where was it written that the masses will be fooled !
    Excellent you just said it before I could +1 for you brother : )

  • cpovet

    You have an excellent point! Never thought of that, but that could be very “real”! SCARY!

  • Fat Lip

    Maybe this is what Oblunder meant buy shovel ready jobs digging holes and filling them with crap , just a little reminder of the great liars words.

  • Anonymous

    I can just see and hear the first televised Obambots now, taking calls.

    Obamabot: [laughing] No, I’m not the anti-Christ. Can you please be serious?
    Caller: I was being serious. Are you the anti-Christ?
    Obamabot: Can we please leave the fringe religious stuff for now? Have you registered for Obamaca … um, I mean, have you registered for Affordable Healthcare yet.
    Caller: I’m having trouble getting through. There seems to be a lot of difficulty with registering. A person could die before registering. Wow.
    Obamabot: No, I’m afraid death benefits are not covered by the plan you are looking at.
    Caller: Huh, what? But isn’t death a pre-existing condition? Do we not all die at some point? Yes! Therefore it pre-exists, right? My congressman and I had a long discussion about this very thing. Could we speed this up please?
    Obamabot: I’m sorry, I don’t think I understand the question. Are you saying you would like to have the death of your congressman sped up? Am I hearing you right? [mutters something about - "sounds like Benghazi"]
    Caller: Okay, I’ve had enough of this foolishness. I would like to see this entire thing repealed to be honest.
    Obamabot: Yes, of course sir. We would be happy to notify your wife of your untimely death. whirrrr .. click … bzzzzzz
    Obamabot: Sorry folks, I seem to be catching a cold or something. Sure glad I have that special exemption .. nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Next caller please.
    Caller: Hello, can you hear me?
    Obamabot: Yes, hello, this is Obama ver.2.1 … click .. just kidding. This is president Obama. Yes, Hello, Nancy?? My producers say you would like to ask something about facial reconstruction. You do have the exemption don’t you. Yes, well then, you’re all set. Next.

  • T funk

    Just like fire is good it can also be bad. If you don’t think this will be used in a harmful way you are naive. Look up the singularity and exponential computational growth. Once you understand that you will now how bad this can be.

  • T funk

    You are so right, but really in anybody’s hands that means harm. Pandora’s box on freakin’ steroids.

  • Alan Darling

    If I was accused of being a robot, I would say “I am not a robot”! Wow, that was easy! I was talking with a representative from Blue Cross and I was forwarded without being told to the Gubm’t exchange. When I started to figure out it wasn’t Blue Cross any more, I asked, and the person or robot deftly avoided a direct answer. After a couple more minutes, I knew for sure it wasn’t Blue Cross and I stated that, and the call dropped without an explanation. Very deceptive and manipulative.

  • T funk

    Look up exponential growth in computational devices.

  • Anonymous

    The voices in those recordings are real people’s voices recorded. The playback part is old school. Speech recognition has come a long way. You could argue that this is all fairly old technology by now I suppose, the implementation is what is most interesting. The fact that they lie is really strange however. You would think that someone who asks if it is a robot is smart enough to fool the stupid thing to prove it is just that.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry friend, you’re being too literal via a book definition. As used
    in context of the story, Robot refers to a learning intelligence, not
    simply a programmed one. By saying they are not robots, rather a human
    voice and programming, I was responding to the implication of
    intelligence and cognizance which are implied when the say the robot
    lied. It is not possible (yet) for a robot to lie. It can give
    responses that are not the truth, but to lie means you must have the
    intent to deceive. That is not the case.

  • Anonymous

    Are you kidding? Any recording, no matter how it is created is NOT A REAL PERSON. I am amazed how easily people will suspend logical thinking on this blogsite. Do you re-read what you’ve written before you hit “post?”

  • Samara Peterson

    wow, so obviously a robot. Can’t deviate from the script.

  • ..

    Everyone should give their personal information to a cold caller (robot) so you can be scammed by anyone. I can just hear all those low information, low intelligence Obama voters giving up all their information. Good for them, they deserve what they get.

  • Jamieson Nierescher

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This made me laugh so damn hard! Thank you for this.. Though horrifically sad at the same time because of how near truth it is… :/

  • Adam Sauer

    It’s programmed responses are lies which makes the robot lie. Lies in and lies out.

  • rastussir

    these are actually prerecorded messages that are being played on a computer by a live person. the individual hears what is said, and presses a button in response.

  • Adam Sauer

    I’m guessing you have a good job, since the unemployment rate (U6) is around 13% or more. I’m sure that there are alot of people out there who would make phone calls ( and many of them probably voted for Obama).

  • Maria Rieske

    I guess no one told the presidency about “The Uncanny Valley” where you can make something look human or sound human, but a real person will still be able to tell the difference because there’s something “off” about them.

  • Anonymous

    Rev 13:15 – “He (false prophet) was ganted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both SPEAK and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.”
    If you can’t see all the pieces falling into place, you are either blind or just don’t know what to look for. The Truth is not “out there” as Mulder used to say, the Truth is in the book for which the printing press was invented 400 years ago. Read it for yourselves while you still have time.

  • Gil Avalos

    Let me ask you a couple of questions, whose your daddy and what does he do.

  • djalchemy

    I thought it was so cool I had to make a song about it.


  • http://www.martinworldwide.net/ www.martinworldwide.com

    it is clear technology has advanced and is continuing to advance to a
    level in which the lines between real and fake will be blurred.