Samantha West, the Voice of the Next Generation Robot or Synthetic Telemarketer?…..

Her name was Samantha and her chirpy mid-west tones have set the internet alight. I gladly hang on her every word. She would call trying to sell me insurance but I only heard a voice that made me want to know more. Samantha you see is a robot, the stuff of electric dreams.

Samantha it seems has mastered the dual arts of listening and speech, and yes the first robots voice is incredible. Quickly getting the internet talking Samantha is also a mystery girl, the exact technology and amount of human involvement in her dialog remain a mystery.

Often late at night her bubbly voice would be at the other end of the line, her synthetic nature hidden by tyranny of distance. Does the day of the robot fast approach?

Samantha West was brought to the public’s attention last week by a Time reporter who had received a telemarketing call from Sam, a call that struck him as unusual from the outset. Having had his curiosity peaked Denver Nicks set about trying to find out who or what Samantha really was.

highpants-smantha-west-robot-new-worldA truth that may be even stranger than everyone first suspected. Premier Health Plans, Inc (PHP Inc) revealed that the calls are directly operated by a real person using voice synthesis software, not a true robot in any case. With little technical detail released it is still unknown how much involvement Samantha’s human operators have. Still, it smells a little fishy to us here at Highpants. From all of the calls we listened too we’d still tend to say she his highly automated with little human intervention.

Samantha it seems represents a milestone for voice synthesis, passing the threshold of believability. Samantha will smoothly probe into your most intimate details; she will squeeze out a question while you’re still wondering if this is real. In fact this is the first synthetic voice to make people really wonder, and question. The first synthetic voice that’s good enough to cause a suspension of disbelief, so good that people ask to meet the real Samantha West.

More than advanced warning of the cold calling Armageddon Samantha is a milestone, an incredible piece of programming at the very least. Have telemarketers found the ultimate solution to unknown foreign accents or are they making robots so real we don’t realize they’re what they are? Either way we have to wonder how long it will be till other jobs are found for Sam, the mind boggles.

Speech recognition and voice synthesis have been handy curiosities for the last three decades. Now however the robots have a voice.

Reference: Time here and here