Chatbot For Home PC? [telecom]

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Have things progressed yet to where a home PC user can put up an audio
chatbot and use it to mess with telephone solicitors?

---  
Pete Cresswell

***** Moderator's Note *****

I don't think so: there are always demands that a listener push or
say something to convince the robocall logic that an actual human is
on the line, instead of an answering machine.

Bill Horne
Moderator

Re: Chatbot For Home PC? [telecom]
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As I recall, Asterisk can be programmed to set up an automated
attendant for anyone calling into it, and some of the documentation
included some rather hilarious implementations of "voice mail jail"
that serve an actual useful purpose illustrating how NOT to design
a voice-response system:  don't have too many choices at each prompt,
don't put in infinite loops the user can't get out of, give the
user a choice for "none of the above", etc.  It is probably better
at messing with *live* telephone solicitors, although it might be
made to pretend to be a human with varying degrees of success, even
a human answering a call.  It can send and receive DTMF dialing
tones, imitate the "out of order" tones, speak, etc.  You could
have it say "Hello", wait a few seconds, repeat, and then ask if
anyone is on the line.

Asterisk, for those not familiar with it, is an open-source PBX
that can operate with VoIP, or, with the right hardware, connect
to land lines or local phone extensions.  It can run on a dedicated
PC but may require some special hardware.  You could set up individual
voice mail boxes for each member of your household.  If you're
actually going to have it handle real phone calls you care about
in addition to the telescum, you probably want a computer dedicated
to handling the phone calls, rather than shared with web surfing
and gaming.

Hmmm.... has anyone tried putting a very simple Asterisk system  
with 2 local extensions and one outside line on a Raspberry Pi?

It would not be difficult to construct a possibly very complex
blocking system based on Caller-ID, and doing things like reading
back the Caller-ID to the caller wouldn't be difficult.

"The number you are calling from, Five Five Five One Two One Two,
has been banned.  Please pay your telephone solicitation bill One
Hundred Thousand Dollars."

Every time Comcast calls or shows up at my door wanting me to
subscribe to their digital phone (VoIP) service, I remind them that
it won't work in my home if there's a power failure.  This usually
confuses them, as they don't understand the problem.  "How do I
report a power failure to the electric company if the phone doesn't
work?".  Actually, that's not a real problem, but it makes the
Comcast guy go away.  I'd either (a) let one of hundreds of affected
neighbors also report it, (b) let the smart meters report it (which
I presume they do by going silent rather than reporting in
periodically), or (c) use my cell phone, assuming the cell towers
and phone exchanges have power.  Asterisk suffers from the same
problem.  If that bothers you, arrange backup power.

Some robocalls (and most live telescum calls) announce themselves
with a "clunk" sound after I say "hello" (at which point I guess
they decided I'm human and connect me), and that's my cue to wait a
couple of seconds to say "Put this number on your do not call list".
Some apparent robocalls actually seem to recognize this, even if
I'm talking over the recording.  I don't know whether I actually
end up on the Do Not Call list, but they stop talking, sometimes
say that they are putting me on the Do Not Call list, and hang up.

On a slightly different subject, I think telephone solicitors are
eventually going to make doing any kind of business over the phone
impractical.  Google "Can You Hear Me Phone Scam".  They've now
figured out how to make the Y-word (the usual answer to that question)
commit you to any contract they want, at least enough to put the
banks and credit card companies on their side rather than yours
(they need your credit card number for this, but from all the data
breaches that's easy to get).  What I don't get is why they have
to get a recording of *ME* saying the Y-word when they could just
as well use one of Donald Trump saying it - banks don't have my
voiceprint, I don't think, and they wouldn't use it to my advantage
even if they did.

Has anyone got a good answer to "Can You Hear Me?" or "Did you get
my email?" that cannot commit you to a contract (or a sale, or a
marriage)?

Caller:  Hello, I'm Mr. Tel E. Marketer from General Nuisance.  
    May I speak to Mr. Smith?
Mr. Smith:  I'm sorry, I can't use that word over the phone to strangers.
Caller:  What word?
Mr. Smith:  I'm sorry, I can't use that word over the phone to strangers.
Caller:  Is the word "Yes"?
Mr. Smith:  I'm sorry, I can't use that word over the phone to strangers.
Caller: Are you Mr. Smith?
Mr. Smith:  I'm sorry, I can't use that word over the phone to strangers.

I've already participated in several conversations like this with
me as the caller (no, I'm not a telephone solicitor, I'm just trying
to return a call to someone specific that I *do* know, but the
person who answers might not know me.)  I guess the local news
reports of the scam have been taken seriously.

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