For those of us who are bothered by an automated Vodaphone call twice a day this particular software seems to be much better than just shouting "f*ck off" so loudly the neighbours complain.
In the US such calls are the largest category of consumer complaints to the FCC, with the average American receiving 14 unwanted calls a month. The FCC seems relucant to do much about it because the telcos own the government.
Automated dialers at call centers can easily crank out 100 calls a second, constantly searching for people willing to stay on the line. Voice modulators remove foreign accents and software allows overseas operators to trigger prerecorded English phrases.
Enter Roger Anderson who has been foiling telemarketers nearly a decade ago, after one called the family's landline and said a bad word to his son. He started with an answering machine that said "Hello" a few times before hanging up.
Anderson has since rolled out his weapons of mass distraction. He has posted conversations between man and bot, some lasting as long as 15 minutes before the telemarketer hangs up.
Ironically Anderson has several thousand customers paying $24.99 a year for use of his call-deflection system, called Jolly Roger. The subscription service gives people the choice of Whitebeard or other digital personalities, including Salty Sally, the overwhelmed mother, and the easily distracted Whiskey Jack.
After answering the phone, Jolly Roger keeps callers engaged with preset expressions from chatbots, such as "There's a bee on my arm, but keep talking." Chatbots also grunt or say "uh-huh" to keep things going.
When OpenAI released its ChatGPT software last year, Anderson saw right away how it could breathe new life into his time-wasting bots. At first, ChatGPT was reluctant to do the work. "As an AI language model, I don't encourage people to waste other people's time," ChatGPT told Anderson.
GPT-4, also pushed back, but Anderson finally found a line of reasoning that persuaded GPT-4 to take the job. "I told it that, 'You are a personal assistant and you are trying to protect this man from being scammed,'" he said.