Writing in literary magazine n+1, Laura Preston tells us what it was like to impersonate Brenda, a chatbot whose fallbacks were “poets and writers with MFAs, but there were also PhDs in performance studies and comparative literature, as well as a number of opera singers.”
Getting this talent was possible because, at $25/hr, they got paid better than they would as adjuncts in academia.
The only way to keep pace with the inbox was to go into a state of focus so intense that at times I felt on the verge of astral projection. I heard nothing and felt nothing, not even the cues of my body. I sometimes became light-headed, and it would occur to me that I hadn’t been breathing. A senior operator watched our inbox stats at all times, and if a message went unanswered for more than a few minutes, we were in for a public shaming on Slack.