California man's business is frustrating telemarketing scammers with chatbots
Will you choose Salty Sally or Whitey Whitebeard? It doesn't matter; they're both intolerable
Richard Currie Mon 3 Jul 2023 16:23 UTC
Every week there seems to be another cynical implementation of AI that devalues the human experience so it is with a breath of fresh air that we report on a bedroom venture that uses GPT-4 technology to frustrate telemarketers.
"Fight back against annoying telemarketers and evil scammers!" the Jolly Roger Telephone Company rails on its website. "Our robots talk to telemarketers so humans don't have to!"
While no one can put a price on slamming the phone down on a call center worker, some among us might get a perverse joy out of listening to them squirm under the non sequiturs of AI. And it seems to be working for Jolly Roger, which has thousands of customers subscribed for $23.80 a year.
The company has a number of bots at its disposal all with unique voices and quirks that makes them utterly infuriating to speak to from the original Jolly Roger, based on the voice of Californian founder Roger Anderson, to distracted mother Salty Sally, who keeps wanting to talk about a talent show she won, to feisty senior citizen Whitey Whitebeard and more. Samples of toe-curling conversations are all over Jolly Roger's website.
"Oh jeez, hang on, there's a bee on me, hang on," Jolly Roger tells one scammer. "There's a bee on my arm. OK, you know what? You keep talking, I'm not gonna talk, though. You keep talking, say that part again, and I'm just gonna stay quiet because of the bee."
Sprinkle in gratuitous salvos of "Suuuure" and "Mhm" and "Sorry, I was having trouble concentrating because you're EXACTLY like somebody I went to high school with so, sorry, say that part again." Five minutes later you have a cold caller pulling their hair out and hanging up.
Customers provide the phone numbers they want to protect and the subscription activates immediately. Users login to the website where they can set up whichever bot or bots they want to employ. Then, when a telemarketer calls, the user is able to merge the call with a specified or random bot. The customer can then listen to the fruits of their labor in Jolly Roger's "Pirate Porthole."
YouTubers like Kitboga have made a name for themselves by infuriating and hacking computer-based scammers in real time while they try to swindle him over the telephone, but now regular folk can do similar without having to lift a finger.
At a time when AI grifters are trying to convince the gullible to flood the ebook market with ChatGPT-generated joke books, it is heartening to see something related that is both funny and actually effective.