If there’s one thing most people on the internet can agree on is we all hate those annoying telemarketing scams calling us at all hours of the day. Software developer Roger Anderson decided to fight fire with fire as he recently equipped his robotic voice service with OpenAI’s GPT-4 large language model to fool them into wasting time.
And the best part is you can get in on it.
Anderson’s service is called Jolly Roger Telephone which sells AI personalities to engage in ridiculous conversations with scammers. A recent Wall Street Journal report details one of these engagements where a telemarketer claiming to be from Bank of America called a potential mark only to be answered by Whitey Whitebeard, one of the AIs. Whitey, as a character, has a habit of speaking in circles. The AI was so effective at its job the scammer eventually hung up out of sheer exhaustion about six minutes into the call.
How it all works
The Wall Street Journal states Jolly Roger Telephone has been around for almost a decade. However when ChatGPT launched late 2022, Anderson saw an opportunity to upgrade his service. He claims GPT-4 “does a pretty good job of saying dumb things that are somewhat funny” to keep caller engaged.
The way the service works, according to the report, is, when a scammer calls, the AI proceeds to “[stall] for time at the start” by saying a bunch of absurdities. It does this to give GPT-4 some time to process what it hears before generating responses. Once done, the text is then “fed into a voice cloner” where the digital personality proceeds to have a ridiculous conversation.
Customers can connect either a landline or mobile phone number to one of the AIs. Personalities include Whitey Whitebeard as mentioned earlier; Salty Sally, a distracted, scatterbrained mother; and Whiskey Jack who often goes into non-sequiturs. Demos are available on Jolly Roger’s website. Be warned: some of the samples have scammers get so angry they begin throwing out expletives so listen with some headphones on. Users will also be given a choice of two numbers – one will record the call while the other won’t.
Jolly Roger Telephone is available in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and NewZealand. People in the United States get access to 10 robot voices while everyone else gets six. A subscription costs only $1.99 a month. Once you’re in, Jolly Roger Telephone will take you through a multi-step process involving convincing your phone company to allow the service onto your connection as well as whitelisting the numbers of those in your contacts list.
We reached out to Jolly Roger for information on what kind of voice cloner the company uses plus prices in other countries. This story will be updated if and when we hear back from the company.
Truth be told, these personalities are shockingly lifelike. They’re not perfectly human, but the combination of GPT-4 alongside the voice cloner gets pretty close to a real voice. Listen to Jolly Roger’s demos and you can easily see how these scammers got fooled.
As funny as the AI personalities may be, we recommend getting more robust protection for your personal information. Be sure to check out TechRadar’s guide of the best identity theft protection software for 2023.