The limits of talking to a machine

“Just get me to a human!” Those were my words just a few weeks ago, the last time I can recall speaking directly to a machine. It was the Xfinity phone system assistant.

I get that there’s a need for large national corporations to effectively manage interactions with their customers, especially with the labor shortages and spikes in internet usage brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But leaving me to fend for myself with a machine – especially a stubborn, unhelpful one! – isn’t my idea of superior customer service.

Eventually, the Comcast assistant got the drift and passed me on to a human being, who quickly and kindly helped me out by doing exactly what the machine said could not be done for me.

While it’s certainly possible to have a more satisfactory experience talking to a machine, it’s usually not our first choice.

From birth, we are steeped in human interactions of all kinds.

By adulthood, we are too used to the natural nuances of conversations with people to have much desire or patience to speak with something we know is artificial.

But could there be situations when we’d prefer a machine? And would those interactions be as beneficial to our health as interactions with other humans?

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