ThePudding.com Phone Service Listens to Your Calls, Makes You Watch Ads

It sounds like a double-whammy of a bad idea: a free phone service that determines which ads to target to you by applying speech-recognition to all your conversations. To make things worse, the home page of ThePudding.com insults potential customers by saying it's "a breakthrough technology that makes your phone calls interesting." Hey, my phone calls are a thrill a minute.

Although it will offer service, ThePudding isn't trying to claim a piece of the pie that Skype, Vonage and the cable companies have been wrassling over for years. According to the AP, it hopes to "license its speech-recognition service to other companies that use Voice over Internet Protocol." But AP tech writer Peter Svensson had mixed results when testing ThePudding's speech recognition:

"Relevant ads appeared when this reporter talked about restaurants and computers, but the software was oddly insistent that he should seek a career as a social worker, showing multiple ads and links pointing to that field."
The description of the service inspires such Kubrickian paranoia, I could have just as easily used that classic image of Alex strapped to the chair, eyelids peeled back with clamps. Welcome to the future, my little droogies. AP