We've all experienced the frustration of wanting to talk to a real live human being on the phone but being confronted by an automated recording system instead.

Now councils can go one better by funnelling their residents' queries through an artificial intelligence program that has the benefit of removing even the need for a human to record a list of options for callers.

Amelia, created by "digital labour" company IPSoft, based in New York, has already started answering the phones at Enfield Council in a bid to - you guessed it - cut costs.

IPSoft's European chief executive Frank Lansink said: "Public organisations around the world, and particularly in the UK, are under considerable pressure to deliver more with less.

"The consumer digital revolution has opened up interesting new service delivery routes for public bodies, but has also placed high expectations on them, as citizens desire a seamless digital customer experience.

"With the rise of powerful cognitive platforms such as Amelia, government organisations have an opportunity to completely reimagine how frontline public services are delivered."

Parit Patel, IPSoft's head of solutions, added that the AI would adjust its emotional tone to respond to that of the caller.

He said: "If I told Amelia I didn't think she was doing a good job, she would pick up on that."

Amelia is also, disconcertingly, aware to some extent that she exists, Mr Patel told Information Age last year.

What do you think? Would you prefer to talk to the lovely Amelia instead of an actual person? Or are you concerned she is but a stepping stone to the eventual crushing of mankind by our robot overlords? Comment below.