TIME reporters recorded these creepy phone conversations with a robot telemarketer that, when asked if it is a robot, laughs and insists it is a “real person.”

But was it actually a robot who could understand and reply as quickly? 

Alexis Madrigal from The Atlantic investigated: 

Samantha West is a human being who understands English but who is responding with a soundboard of different pre-recorded messages. So a human parses the English being spoken and plays a message from Samantha West. It is IVR, but the semantic intelligence is being provided by a human. You could call it a cyborg system. Or perhaps an automaton in that 18th-century sense.

He noted that recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the diagnosis had been made in 15 percent of high school-age children, and that the number of children on medication for the disorder had soared to 3.5 million from 600,000 in 1990. He questioned the rising rates of diagnosis and called them “a national disaster of dangerous proportions.”

Very interesting.

Source: The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder

Amazon Drones: As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap

Amazon Drones: As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap

Amazon Drones: As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap


The naysayers were out in force. “Even if the Feds Let Them Fly, Amazon’s Delivery Drones Are Still Nonsense,” bleated Wired‘s Marcus Wohlsen. Dan Lyons reacted to the piece with a condemnation of “the credibility of CBS and 60 Minutes,” again complaining that drone deliveries are “years away.” The Guardian‘s James Bell dismissed it as “little more than a publicity stunt,” and added: “what happens when next door’s kid decides to shoot the drone with his BB rifle?” And Slate called it “hot air” and compared it to an April Fool’s joke.

What is wrong with these people? Do they moonlight as stock analysts who only care about the next quarter’s results? Do they have no vision at all? Do they not care about anything unless it will directly interact with them tomorrow, or at the absolute latest, next year? They’re the same ilk who, I’m sure, claimed that credit cards would never work, that merchants would never adopt them, that people would not use them, that fraud would make their use untenable.

I fully agree with Jon Evans. People say it won’t happen. But can you now imagine a world where this kind of stuff does not exist? I’m not sure. It looks like it’s bound to happen. “Is it bad?” is the correct question, not “will it happen?”

Should something go wrong — name your worst fear: the device broadcasts your credit card numbers, it is hacked, the site containing your encrypted numbers is hacked, the numbers are improperly encrypted, merchants refuse it — it’s not Coin’s problem.

The thing I didn’t get about Coin is why Visa/MasterCard said it was ok for such a device to exist. I mean, I like the idea but how secure is it?