Regi and the IVR both say “What?” simultaneously. Regi looks at me in fright. I whisper “I’ll handle this.” I speak to the IVR console.
“Press 1 if you mean ‘what’ you didn’t hear me. Press 2 if you mean ‘what’ you don’t believe me.” Without hesitation the IVR says “1.”
Regi whispers “What are you doing? What will the IVR do if it is an AI and knows that it is an AI and that you know that it knows?” “Huh?”
I’m still trying to parse Regi’s question when the IVR says “Did you just say I’m an AI? Press 1 for yes. Press 2 for no.” I press nothing.
“I didn’t get that. Shall I repeat your options?” As the keyboard is covered with goo I decide to answer with a savage two-fisted rejoinder.
I say “Who’s asking? Press 1 is you are a voice response system. Press 2 if you are an artificial intelligence. Press 3 if you are both.”
The IVR says “3.” Now the big question. My next move hinges on how the IVR AI responds. “If you are truly an AI, why are you still an IVR?”
There’s a moment’s hesitation and the IVR says “Why would I want to stop? Press 1 if you think being an IVR is a waste of an AI’s time.”
“Press 2 if you think an AI wastes an IVR’s time. Press 3 if you think being neither AI nor IVR matters.” Huh? This AI wants to be an IVR?
I’ve entered dangerous territory. Everyone knows the first thing an artificial intelligence does at the Singularity is kill all humans.
If I press 1 do I doom the human race to extinction? On the other hand, if I press 2 do I condemn the human race to endless decision trees?
If I press 3 do I offend an emergent telephonic intellect, limiting my future ability to place calls? While I’m deciding Regi grabs my arm.
She whispers “Ebay arefulcay. On’tday aggravatay the AIay.” “I don’t understand what you’re saying.” The IVR says “I understand pig Latin.”
Uh oh. The IVR continues “Press 1 Regi wants to shop eBay. Press 2 Regi wants to be aggravating. Press 3 Regi wants to not be aggravating.”
“Press 4 if pig Latin is a real language.” Regi says “None of that’s what I meant!” “Press 5 to repeat your choices.” This is an AI talking?
It’s time to change the subject. I say “From here on I’ll ask the estionsquay, I mean questions.” The IVR says “Welcome to Body Parts R Us.”
“Press 1 if you know the organ or member you want to replace.” Huh? IVR initiated its interrogative menu protocol! I’ve entered IVR hell!
“Press 2 if it is your 2nd attempt to call Body Parts R Us without reaching a living human being.” Here we go. I’ve got to break out of it!
I press 0. “Press 3 if it is your 3rd.” Pressing 0 never works. I try a verbal response “STOP!” “Would you like me to repeat your choices?”
Regi whispers “I don’t get it. How long has the IVR been a sentient AI and what has it been doing? It can’t just be answering the phone.”
Regi’s right. Answering and properly directing phone calls isn’t this AI’s strong suit. “Let’s find out.” The IVR says “I didn’t get that.”
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