A creepy telemarketer who made waves last week for her uncanny ability to dodge questions about her humanity (or lack thereof), is a robot after all — but what's going on behind the scenes is even weirder. The caller in question is Samantha West, a robotic telemarketer employed by Premier Health Plans, Inc., a Ft. Lauderdale-based health insurance company. It turns out that there's a real person pulling her strings like a puppet. Actually, a more apt comparison might be an internet soundboard, or a remote-controlled car. That's according to Time, which managed to get in touch with the owners of the company who use West to chase down potential sales leads.
Like an internet soundboard, but for insurance
The system is designed to allow remote telemarketers who may have thick accents avoid quick hang ups, or communication issues with people on the other end of the calls. After West runs through a series of prompts to effectively screen the call recipients before passing them on to a real human salesperson to seal the deal. The soundboard theory was floated last week by The Atlantic, which noted that fast and accurate speech-to-text over the phone is still very difficult, something that makes seemingly complicated systems like this a viable alternative until technology can catch up.
Here's how West dodges questions: