Hilde & Bård Tørdal | 2005
Ghost is a telesales sabotage machine. Even though it is a robot with a limited vocabulary and an almost 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 from an obviously unfocused, confused person who is frequently interrupted by kettles boiling over and other minor disasters in the home. Ghost never says yes, we don’t want it to inadvertently buy something. Ghost never says no, we don’t want to end the call – we want the telesales operator to try for as long as possible to make a sale. In this manner we steal time and money from the telesales companies and stop them from calling a new potential customer for the duration of the conversation.
Our recorded conversations between Ghost and the callers has made it more and more obvious that we have designed a robot which mirrors the telesale operators mode of operation. The operators will follow their sales argumentation 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 will, in the same manner, follow its algorithm without any interest in what the telesales operator says or asks.
The only difference between these two machines is the slight confused hesitation on the part of the human caller.