The pandemic is emptying call centers. AI chatbots are swooping in

Brian Pokorny had heard of AI systems for call centers before. But as the IT director of Otsego County, New York, he assumed he couldn’t afford them. Then the pandemic hit, and the state governor ordered a 50% reduction of all government staff, forcing Pokorny to cut most of his call center employees. Meanwhile, inbound calls were rising as more residents began seeking reliable covid-related guidance and medical information.

So Pokorny picked up the first solution that landed on his desk: Watson Assistant for Citizens, which IBM had started offering to governments, health-care organizations, and research institutions in a 90-day

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