Lady Robot Telemarketer Is So Real She Won't Even Admit She's a Robot


Forget your dreams of a non-robot overlord filled future, because shit just got real. A couple of TIME reporters stumbled upon a telemarketing robot who is apparently designed so well, it actually knows how to lie and tell people it’s a real person.

TIME Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer received a call last week from a friendly-sounding woman, wanting to talk about health insurance deals with him. Scherer thought something about the woman’s voice sounded “fishy.”

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.

Here is a clip of the robot talking and actually denying she’s a freaking robot.

Scherer was naturally curious, so he decided to enlist a few other reporters to help him find out more about the mystery caller. (He must have fallen in love. That happens all the time in robot movies.) The reporters were able to use the number she called him from to get her back on the phone. They found out her name was Samantha West. Samantha West. She’s like a plucky character in a Kate Hudson movie.

They also discovered Scherer wasn’t the only one who was hit up by Lady Skynet:

Her number is (484) 589-5611. This number, if you Google it, is the subject of much discussion online as other recipients of Samantha West calls complain on chat boards about the mysteriously persistent lady who keeps calling them. “A friendly sounded woman on the other end claimed I requested health insurance information,” writes one mark. “She doggedly refused to deviate from her script.”

The TIME journalists, (who obviously don’t cover any important Tom Hiddleston-related beats like some of us do), used Samantha’s number to track down the sentient salesbot’s true human handlers, a company named Premier Health Plans, Inc.

A TIME reporter called the company directly, identified himself and said TIME was doing a story about the robot who calls people on the company’s behalf. “We don’t use robot calls, sir,” said the person who answered the phone, before promptly hanging up the phone.

The rest of the story about what they tracked down is kind of interesting if you’re suffering from withdrawals from that time you watched All The President’s Men in high school.

An update included in Time’s original article notes that the phone number now goes to a busy signal. BECAUSE THEY ARE COVERING THEIR TRACKS OBVI. Where is poor Samantha now? Has she been “deactivated” along with all the other robots that got spotted in the general public? Is she being kept in some sort of robot gulag, awaiting re-purposing as a bagel toaster?

Listen, all jokes aside. We all know what exactly what this means: I, Robot is totally real. Will Smith isn’t just a phenomenally likable action movie star, he is also a soothsayer, using his powerful Hollywood connections to help warn us about the future robot-pocalypse and coming future war with our cyborg overlords. I recommend we start make peace with all our loved ones, burn all our material possessions in the backyard and start living life on the harsh road in our dystopian, robot-controlled future.

Image via Shutterstock

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