Ghost is a telesales sabotage machine. Even though it is a robot with a limited vocabulary and with a nonexistent understanding of human speech, it has to date managed to sabotage every call received.

Ghost is cast in porcelain. It has twin Basic Stamp 2 microcontrollers, one connected to the telephone line, and one managing the sound library plus the animated LED face.

When an unwanted call is received, the handset is placed in the arms of Ghost which instantly takes over the conversation. Due to its limited capacity of understanding human speech the sound library is comprised of long sentences portraying an obviously unfocused, confused person who is frequently interrupted by kettles boiling over and other minor disasters in the home.

Ghost never said yes – we didn’t want it to inadvertently buy something. Ghost never said no – we didn’t want to end the call. The goal was to keep the telesales operator on the line for as long as possible, stealing time and money from the telesales companies, stopping them from calling a new potential customer for the duration of the conversation.

Our recorded conversations between Ghost and the callers made it more and more obvious that we had designed a robot which mirrored the telesales operators mode of operation. The operators would follow their sales argument sheet without deviating from their program, trying to sell the product regardless of the apparent chaos on the other end of the telephone line. Ghost would, in the same manner, follow its algorithm without any interest in what the telesales operator would say or ask.

A robot pretending to be a human in conversation with a human operating as a robot. The only difference between these two was the slight confused hesitation on the part of the human caller.

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