IBM’s Watson will now take your calls. The progeny of Watson of Jeopardy fame is being introduced into all kinds of new decision support applications from medicine to finance. One of the new areas for Watson technology is to ‘man’ call centers – you know, those telephone sweat shops where the speaker at the other end frequently has a hard to understand Asian accent, and very often (50+% of the time) does not solve your problem. Ten companies have signed up for the AI systems that will let their customers converse with this ‘cognitive’ supercomputer in natural language, i.e. normal English. Reporting on this, Larry Press, my longtime friend and professor of information systems at CSUDH, muses whether we will then witness another successful Turing Test passed by a computer, albeit in a constrained knowledge domain. (more here)
The significance of this is that more legions of humans will lose such call center jobs as systemic unemployment continues to grow. And this for the simple reason that for them there will be no new automobile factories as their buggy whip shops close down. But that’s another story oft told in these pages. In the meantime simpler souls see only that some jobs still don’t pay a so-called ‘living wage’ as the real problem confronting our workforce.