Max has got your number…

 作者:蓟猡芘     |      日期:2019-03-08 05:20:00
By Duncan Graham-Rowe HARD SELLS just got harder: those people who phone as you are sitting down for a meal and try to sell you a cable TV subscription can now be replaced by a computer. A new call-handling program called Max not only automates the handling of incoming calls, but can actually make calls as well, allowing “junk calls” to be made at the whim of marketeers. When Max initiates a call it attempts to converse with the customer, using voice-recognition and speech-synthesis software to convert speech into text and vice versa. The text is processed to generate a response or to process a transaction. The difference between Max and other automated systems, says its developer, Arnold Wilson of Azarn Communications in London, is that it is not passive. Other systems may respond to the customer’s voice but need someone to listen to a recording and transcribe the customer’s responses. In Britain, the law should protect people from the unwanted attentions of automated telesales. Lorraine Godkin, a compliance manager at the Data Protection Agency, says that it is illegal to use automated systems for direct marketing without customer permission. But Max has other uses, Wilson says. If your bank account is about to go overdrawn, for example, the bank’s Max software could call you, invite you to verify your ID with a PIN, and warn you verbally, says Wilson. Max could also help to personalise marketing by adjusting sales pitches to each customer’s needs. “You’re not just being hit with crap, it’s crap that’s dedicated to you,