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Conversation between two answering machines (Jane Edwards)
(true, smirk, computer)


Folks --
I just received this message from Monique Banbanson at IRL, who forwarded 
it from Douglas Nortz at CMU. Thought it might be of interest...

{ed Original author Dave Kirby, cylxd!dave}


This was in a letter from a friend of mine who works at Microsoft.  I
thought it would be a good example of what feature interaction can
actually do. . .

A particularly insidious kind of sales call now appearing in several
cities is one which is initiated by computer, and contains recorded
questions by some mellifluous voice that requires answers in simple
digits or "yes" and "no". A voice recognition circuit then processes
your answers and asks further questions based on your former answers.
The sales pitch is usually disguised as a survey of some kind.
The despicable thing about these things is that they won't leave you
alone. If you hang up, they will just call back again.

One day my wife got a call from one of these computer systems, and her
answering machine answered. The conversation that followed was
as it consisted of two machines talking to each other without having
slightest idea about what each other was saying. The conversation wound
up in an endless loop, as follows:


[ANSWERING MACHINE] "...At the tone, please give your message.

[PHONE] "Hello. This is [company_name], and we are taking a telephone 
survey ... when I ask a question, wait for the beep, then please
speak plainly.  I will repeat your answer back to you, and verify it.
First, what is your phone number? BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP."

(The answering machine, upon hearing the beep, got confused and thought

it was a play-back command, and generated another beep in response.)


[PHONE] "Thank you! Your phone number was 443-28347-47756-377764-22222.
Is that correct? BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP."


[PHONE] "Thank you! Do you have any children? BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP."


[PHONE] Thank you! What is the age of your first child? BEEEEEEEEEEP."


[PHONE] "Your first child is 1,222 years old. Is that correct?


[---------------  BEGIN ENDLESS LOOP ----------------]

[PHONE] "Thank you! Do you have any more children? BEEEEEEP."


[PHONE] "Thank you! What is this child's age? BEEEP." 


[PHONE] "This child is 4,233 years old. Is that correct? BEEEEP."


[---------------------END LOOP -----------------------]

My wife, upon noticing that the answering machine had been going for
over half an hour, turned up the volume to find out what was going on.
When she discovered this endless loop (by now she had over 200
all over 1,000 years old), she switched off the answering machine. The
computer never called again.

Dave Kirby
     ----- End Forwarded Messages -----

(From the "Rest" of RHF)

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