back to article Here are some deadhead jobs any chatbot could take over right now

Hello Mister Dabbs, yes? I am calling from Microsoft Windows organisation, yes? I am calling to advise you of a security problem with your Microsoft, yes?" That's a no. But I'm bored and could do with a little distraction. I tell him I don't use Windows. "You have a MacBook, yes?" I tell him I have a friend with a MacBook. …

  1. Blockchain commentard

    And obviously cos Dabbsy is just swanning off on a long term holiday in France, this article was machine written to fulfil contractual obligations. As was this comment.

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch

      written to fulfil contractual obligations

      How very Monty Python of you. (Is it still cool to say that? It may have been that "difficult" album and all...)

  2. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

    Your list

    1. Your autonomous coffee could perhaps be describing Costa Express (no intelligence necessary). Or even some of the truly dire machine coffee of earlier times.

    2. You know very well many of them do it. That's probably why people warm to any politician who can go off-script. Even a Boris, Trump, or Corbyn.

    3. Dammit, I'm waiting for my plumber right now! I wonder if an AI could fix my shower?

    1. NightFox

      Re: Your list

      But..but.. but... as the strapline from one of the chains (can't remember which) says "Baristas, not Button Pushers", so I'd always assumed there was all sorts of apprenticeships and years of serving as a sous-barista whilst spending late nights learning about the science and history of coffee involved before hopefully one day making the grade to don the hallowed apron and put all those years of dedication into crafting the perfect latte.

      Next you'll be claiming that the chefs at McDonalds aren't really chefs.

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: Your list

        >> Next you'll be claiming that the chefs at McDonalds aren't really chefs.

        And you know that nice Dr Dre? Well...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Your list

          You're implying that he *doesn't* actually have a squirrel living in his hair?

          1. NightFox

            Re: Your list

            Few things make me laugh on the outside, but this did. Thank you AC, whoever you are :-)

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Your list

          And apparently, that colonel who fries chicken, he doesn't cook it all himself...

          1. EVP

            Re: Your list

            Now I’m upset. I possibly cannot believe what you write about the Colonel.

            Next you tell that dog and cat food cans contain something else than what pictures on their labels suggest.

            I’d better not read this thread any further.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Your list

        And, as the upset parent wails, " I thought you said your new boyfriend was a barrister!"

      3. Teiwaz

        Re: Your list

        Next you'll be claiming that the chefs at McDonalds aren't really chefs.

        That's mechanisation for you.

        Barista was probably* a highly valued skill in the days Dr Johnson and his contemporaries frequented the coffee house to talk language, literature and other high arts.

        The the corporations get involved, and like what went before with spinning and weaving, car manufacture and elsewhat, hammered out a script and a procedure to making coffee so every cup and coffee shop 'experience' would be of equal value for every customer and the same high quality every

        visit (i.e, something akin to hot mud with spittle in it), and each customer would get a cheery greeting and cheezy farewell.

        Thus were Barista and Coffee machines equally mechanised, so any monkey or small child could do the job (and would be, where it not for legislation preventing it, so the coffee corps could more literally pay pennies or peanuts).

        Taking this trend to the ultimate degree, it'd be far more efficient for machines to both serve and make the coffee and reduce the skill required to run the franchise to zero.

        * Mrs Miggins, so then again, maybe not.

      4. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Your list

        Coca Cola bought Costa. A match made in heaven.

        Why aren't Trading Standards after McD in UK. They claim to serve meals and happy meals.

    2. macjules

      Re: Your list

      No, because you are using the words "Costa" and "Coffee" in the same sentence. If you compare a cup of the watery substance that Costa produces with something from just about any other coffee outlet you find that the Costa output actually has no real discernible taste. The presumption is that since it has come through a coffee machine, has made lots of noises associated with the coffee process, you have been served by a (usually) surly individual of unknown origin and you have been chronically overcharged then it must coffee.

      1. Franco

        Re: Your list

        The very fact that Costa Express machines advertise (correctly) that it's just like you get in a shop should tell you what you need to know about Costa Coffee. Several years ago when I used to spend a lot of time on the road I did have occasion to frequent such places, because it was at least caffeinated, although tasted of not much.

        I tend these days to buy coffee (on the rare occasions that I do) in Greggs. It's not great but it's cheaper and better than Costa.

        1. Fred Dibnah

          Re: Your list

          The Greggs operatives also are able to smile and be generally more human.

      2. Daedalus

        Re: Your list

        Costa should be applauded for keeping up the ancient British cafeteria traditions. Who does not fondly remember 99% egg-free egg sandwiches, 99% ham-free ham sandwiches, and coffee-less coffee?

        "Wotcha want?"


        "They're off"

        "Meat loaf salad"

        "That's off too"

        etc. etc. to

        "I might just as well have stayed at home"

        "I dunno, does you good to have a fling now and again"

        - Peter Sellers, "Balham, Gateway to the South"

        1. Red Ted
          Thumb Up

          Re: Your list

          "Stands the clock at ten to three,

          and is there still honey for tea?"

          "Honey's off dear"

        2. davenewman

          Re: Your list

          I used to live in Balham. I ate at that cafe.

        3. ICL1900-G3

          Re: Your list

          When comedy meant more than swearing loudly.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Your list

        Costa output actually has no real discernible taste

        I dunno - I quite like their coffee. At least they don't serve overburnt bitter sludge like Starbucks..

        (Cafe Nero is probably the best of the big chains - we have a 222 and a No.1 Coffee place in town and they are both easily better than any of the big chains.)

        1. macjules

          Re: Your list

          +1 for Cafe Nero. I am lucky in that nearby I have Monmouth Coffee's HQ plus a really good Cafe Nero for when I don't quite feel like paying £3.60 for a miniscule latte.

      4. ibmalone

        Re: Your list

        compare a cup of the watery substance that Costa produces with something from just about any other coffee outlet

        I'm led to believe you have never been to a Ritazza!

    3. Evil Scot

      Re: Your list

      You assume that plumbers have intelligence.

      Monday plumber comes to fix loss of cold water in flat (urgent call out).

      Wednesday same guy comes to look at shower... Takes Photos of shower. Now waiting for repair.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Your list

        You assume that plumbers have intelligence.

        I thanked the Heart Surgeon that did my bypass for a plumbing job well done

      2. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

        Re: Your list

        Plumber came. Plumber fixed shower, and I've just enjoyed it for the first time in quite a while.

        Once in a while, something goes right. I hope this is one such occasion.

        Though I expect a robot plumber might've charged fewer arms and legs for the job.

    4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      Re: Your list

      The "intelligent" auto-barista will almost certainly turn out about as good as the Sirius Cybernetics Nutrimatic Machine. At least it will be consistent in the production of a cup filled with a liquid which is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

      I'd better go (and will do once I have managed to coax one of the elevators out of its current position of sulking in the basement).

      Doffs hat (Tilley once more) to the late, great Douglas Adams

    5. Daedalus

      Re: Your list

      Remembering Geo W. Bush with the outline of a mysterious box under his suit.....

    6. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Your list

      I wonder if an AI could fix my shower?

      It probably would forget to flick the motor isolation switch like wot the plumber that replaced my (dead) power shower did. Which resulted in a brand-new non-power shower to replace a old non-power shower[1].

      Luckily, I posess the ability to read the install instructions after he had left[2] and the intelligence to work out that the symptoms exactly matched not setting the switch to 'pump'.

      [1] The pump motor on the old one had emitted the magic smoke after 10+ years of operation. Totes terminal.

      [2] He muttered something to the effect of "you need to contact the manufacturer" and bogged off. After charging me £80 for the privelidge. Still - he had done the changeover properly, apart from the switch issue and he's done good work before so I'll forgive him this once. Just as well *I* can handle the electronics side of things even if I can't do the plumbing side.

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Your list

        My story is better than yours.

        The plumber only charged £30.

        And I had told him there were two stop cocks he had to turn off to repair the shower, and he wouldn't believe me. Result: He got totally wet.

    7. Mark 85

      Re: Your list

      2. You know very well many of them do it. That's probably why people warm to any politician who can go off-script. Even a Boris, Trump, or Corbyn.

      Are you saying they're not bots yet? I'm shocked.

    8. CountCadaver Silver badge

      Re: Your list

      Showers are easy

      Mixer or Electric?

      1. Frumious Bandersnatch

        Re: Your list

        Showers are easy

        Mixer or Electric?

        Are Showers Electric? Only, mine's broke down ...

  3. AndrueC Silver badge

    I, for one, would like to thank Alistair for not including a photograph of him in a mini-skirt.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      for not including a photograph of him in a mini-skirt.

      He might very well be wearing a miniskirt in that photo, but it's just that he's thoughtfully cropped that part out.

      1. quxinot

        Re: for not including a photograph of him in a mini-skirt.

        Gonna sleep great tonight.


    2. joeW

      Well I, for one, am not clicking on that final YouTube link.

    3. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Alistair in a mini-skirt.

      maybe lost in translation and it's a kilt from when he was about 10. There is quite an overlap of fabric?

  4. sbt

    why don't phishers script a few skills so that a voice-AI can make unsolicited phone calls

    Shhh! For f*cks sake don't give those buggers any ideas!

    One can only imagine what mischief this teeming mass of highly educated but otherwise superfluous graduates will be tasked with if they get put out of the phone scamming business.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: why don't phishers script a few skills so that a voice-AI can make unsolicited phone calls

      I already get machines phoning me up and telling me I will get arrested for not paying my taxes. I answered one of them and got put through to a human. I asked why he was calling and he did not know. He tried to get me to tell him but I wasn't co-operating so he guessed Windows technical support. Things went a bit down hill from there as I do not have a Windows computer.

      For the tax thing I was going to ask what my name is. Who is going to get arrested for not paying taxes? What question do I ask for Windows? Should Microsoft know my name, Windows license number or what?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: why don't phishers script a few skills so that a voice-AI can make unsolicited phone calls

        "What question do I ask for Windows?"

        Tell them you really need the licence number otherwise you won't know which one they're ringing about. Yes, you're looking after about 1,000 of them. Really get his hopes up that he's landed a big fish. Or phish.

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: why don't phishers script a few skills so that a voice-AI can make unsolicited phone calls

      There is a chatbot called Lenny which somebody set up to respond to scammers. If memory serves me right, Dabbsy mentioned it in a SFTWS ages ago. Loads of videos of it in action on YouTube, but unfortunately I'm posting this from work and the Fun Police forbid me from finding and posting any links, so you'll have to search YouTube yourself.

    3. Annihilator

      Re: why don't phishers script a few skills so that a voice-AI can make unsolicited phone calls

      Yeah, already sort of happens really. I get unsolicited calls that try to guess how you'll respond...

      "Pause.... Hello?...…… Yeah, I'm calling because of an accident you had?...… Yeah can you tell me a bit more about that?...…"

      Remaining silent makes them hang up.

      1. Mark 85

        Re: why don't phishers script a few skills so that a voice-AI can make unsolicited phone calls

        Or just tell them that "yes.. the accident... I died". But then you might get calls from ambulance chasers who promise "compensation" for your untimely death.

        1. toxicdragon

          Re: why don't phishers script a few skills so that a voice-AI can make unsolicited phone calls

          You know what, be kind of interesting to see how far you could take that one.

        2. Twanky

          Re: why don't phishers script a few skills so that a voice-AI can make unsolicited phone calls

          If I can spare the time when a 'you had an accident that wasn't your fault' robot calls I respond enough to be put through to a human and then tell them it wasn't an accident and that I 'nailed the bastard good this time' - or something similar. If they stay on the line I ask how they got put through to the slashers' wing, Broadmoor (secure hospital for the criminally insane)? Although some are amused and play along, most hang up to deal with the next victim.

          Edit: I have a dual sim phone with a disposable number on the second sim (which I change about once a year) - I wouldn't do this with my main (keeper) number.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: why don't phishers script a few skills so that a voice-AI can make unsolicited phone calls

        "Remaining silent makes them hang up."

        Eventually. Or have they wised up since the days they used to ring me? I seem to have got on a blacklist & never get any of those these days.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "We have photos"

    Brilliant !

  6. Andy Non Silver badge

    "Microsoft scammers"

    If I've the time and in the mood I like to string these people on for as long as possible. I take the view that while they're talking to me they're not scamming someone more vulnerable / gullible. My record is keeping then on the line 45 minutes with them making another couple of follow up calls later the same day.

    I pretend to be a slow old man who's not familiar with computers. (The first part is moderately true anyway). First they have to wait while the computer boots up. Then wait while it is applying some Windows updates. That's five to ten minutes wasted for a start. Then they get me to press CTRL and R but that CTRL button takes a good minute to find. Then I read out very slowly everything on the run dialogue box before I allow them to get a word in edgewise. Then type in the event viewer program wrong a few times.

    They are already starting to get a bit exasperated by the time the event logs are up on screen. I then persistently read out everything there until they are pleading with me to stop. Next tricky bit is displaying the relevant tab.

    Apparently, all the error messages mean my computer is very ill and full of malware. This is a good point to have a nervous breakdown and sob for a few minutes until finally reassured that "Microsoft" can resolve all the problems.

    Next they get me to launch my web browser. It briefly flummoxes them that it is firefox rather than another browser. Now my bad spelling comes to the fore and I make several mistake typing in the address of the team viewer (or similar) website they are trying to get me to. That's another five minutes of frustration for the scammer. Finally, when on the correct site it takes me another few minutes to find the relevant bit of software to download with me pausing to tell them everything it says on the screen before allowing them to proceed further.

    Next comes the fun and games trying to find the downloaded install exe file in windows explorer. By this time the scammer is tearing out their hair.

    At this point when they tell me to double click on the exe I just tell them a box has come up asking me to enter an admin password, so what do I type in? No I have no idea, it isn't my computer, it belongs to my wife and she's out shopping. "When will she be back?"... in an hour or so.

    An hour later another call... "Sorry, she's not back yet."

    An hour later still same again.

    They then say they need a payment for the work they've done on my (her) computer. I ask who I need to make the cheque payable to; but apparently they don't take cheques only card payments. Ah! I say. My wife's got the credit card and she's still out shopping.

    They finally gave up at this point. I could hear the pain in his voice.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Microsoft scammers"

      Wonderful if you have the time to spend leading them on like that.

      I just ask

      'How is the weather in Mumbai today?'

      That often puts them (John, Richard or Mary who happen to have wonderful Indian accents) off their script.

      At that point, I gently put the phone down and carry on with what I was doing before I was interrupted.

      Only when I hear the tone telling me to hang up do I return to the phone.

      Far less stress and interruption to my day.

      Right.. break over. no back to plotting the next episode of my latest "boddice ripper" novel. Need to find two more murders before lunch.

      See... I do have more interesting things to do even if I am retired.

      1. Adrian 4

        Re: "Microsoft scammers"

        Seems like another bot to talk to the scam bot and misunderstand what they're asking would be good. They could chat happily for hours.

      2. Teiwaz

        Re: "Microsoft scammers"

        He doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever, until you have given him your login and credit card details

        Unless, apparently, you use the magic phrase (no, not anything harry potter).

        It's been my experience they are indeed pretty quick to abandon the conversation (rather in a rudely abrupt manner too) once you utter the 'Linux' word*.

        * Well, due to efficiency measures, I've taken to just yelling 'linux' down the phone at anyone who sounds like they might be from 'microsoft windows organisation' after the first sentence.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: "Microsoft scammers"

          I just say, "Oh you are.Wow, " etc., let them get into their stride, lead them on a bit till they think they have a mug on the line, and then say "You're a fucking liar and I don't know how you sleep at night" then hang up.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: "Microsoft scammers"

        'How is the weather in Mumbai today?'

        My usual line is "do your parents and grandparents know that you are trying to steal money from poor elderly people? Do you think your elders would approve? How would you think if someone did that to them?"

        One scammer paused for about 30 seconds before starting to cry and putting the phone down. Which I considered a good result - one less person probably no longer working for that particular genus of parasitic bloodsuckers..

        (By which I mean scammers)

    2. Warm Braw

      Re: "Microsoft scammers"

      I pretend to be a slow old man who's not familiar with computers

      In the last 30 minutes I got a call from my elderly mother who had been extremely puzzled by the scam call she had just received about "hackers on her Internet". Her genuine response was "I don't have the Internet, I have British Telecom": sometimes naievty is also remarkably prescient.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: "Microsoft scammers"

        Aww, bless 'er. My Dad's the same. He refers to Windows as 'The Program'. He still claims his email is hosted by Bigfoot (it was forwarded by them many years ago) and he prefers to refer to the internet as 'Google' (something the Mount View boys would probably be proud of).

    3. LucreLout

      Re: "Microsoft scammers"

      If I've the time and in the mood I like to string these people on for as long as possible. I take the view that while they're talking to me they're not scamming someone more vulnerable / gullible.

      I do the same.

      My folks got scammed by these scum a few years back. Took me ages to unshaft their computer and get their credit & debit cards changed over.

      My proudest moment was being escalated all the way to engineering with a very senior manager also trying to help me become a victim. They worked really hard to solve the problem of why we just couldn't get the scam to work on my machine. Eventually I cracked up laughing and asked them exactly how dumb they thought I was - it took them a full minute to realize they'd been played and not only was there no payday coming, but their details were getting forwarded to action fraud etc.

      1. quxinot

        Re: "Microsoft scammers"

        Said it before, will say it again:

        Once you've gotten them that far, ensure that you get their ip address so you can 'open the firewall' or similar excuse.....

        ... Don't those DDoS-as-a-service folks do free trials? :)

        The worst I've done to one was allow him to play around in a specially-built VM, which was running a small script that bumped the mouse and hit tab fairly regularly. Sadly I started giggling after a few minutes and the game was over :(

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "Microsoft scammers"

        their details were getting forwarded to action fraud etc /dev/null

    4. Stoneshop

      Re: "Microsoft scammers"

      I make several mistake typing in the address of the team viewer (or similar) website

      Tern viewer.

      Tame viewer

      Teen viewer

      Theme viewer

      1. Fat Bob

        Re: "Microsoft scammers"

        I would imagine, that if it exists, teen viewer is an entirely different type of website to the one the scammer wishes you to visit.

        1. Stoneshop

          Teen viewer

          I would imagine, that if it exists

          "Specify type of teen"

    5. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change
      Thumb Up

      Re: "Microsoft scammers"

      Andy, that sounds like a fine comedy sketch. Are you on youtube or similar, and if not, why not?

    6. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: "Microsoft scammers"

      By this time the scammer is tearing out their hair.

      Everything you have described I have experienced while giving software support to customers I am actually trying to help and who want my help.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: "Microsoft scammers"

        Where do you think he got his inspiration?

    7. Killfalcon Silver badge

      Re: "Microsoft scammers"

      My mum tied up one of these guys for fifteen minutes, almost by accident.

      See, they called about a problem with her windows, and she thought they meant the double-glazing. My parents have literally never owned a windows machine - Amiga until commodore carped it, then Mac, so she just didn't make the connection between "windows" and computer at first.

      She wised up before they did and kept it going a bit "No, my windows are fine, I can see that big green hill and a lovely blue sky over it..."

    8. Mr Humbug

      > I pretend to be a slow old man who's not familiar with computers.

      I did that one, with the added difficulty that the desktop computer and the corded phone were in different rooms.

      'Can you click the four-flag button'

      'OK, wait a minute'

      Phone down, long pause

      'I've done that'

      eventually (after about 45 minutes) we got to do you have a mobile, which I said I did but I didn't know the number because my son did all that for me so they said they would call me back when I'd found out what it was.

      Call back and I still hadn't found out my mobile number so there was 30 minutes of different ways I could do that, all of which I claimed I'd been told would be expensive. they left me with another strategy to try.

      They did call back again but I'd had to go out so that was the end of it.

      I was impressed that they were polite and extremely patient throughout the whole charade

    9. Red Ted

      Re: "Microsoft scammers"

      I too have tried this tack, when I have time.

      My best one was when after some time (much shorter than your record, but still in the order of 20mins) when the bloke at the other end got so fed up with me that they said

      "You are too stupid to own a computer"

      and hung up on me.

      I was so proud!

    10. Andy A

      Re: "Microsoft scammers"

      "If I've the time and in the mood I like to string these people on for as long as possible. I take the view that while they're talking to me they're not scamming someone more vulnerable / gullible. My record is keeping then on the line 45 minutes with them making another couple of follow up calls later the same day."

      You are not alone in this quest, though I have yet to break the 40 minute barrier.

      It matters not what the automated message says. It might be "Amazon auto-renew for 39.99" or "£600 has been withdrawn from your bank account", "your ISP will disconnect your internet" or any number of others. The aim is to get into your machine and steal stuff. In the olden days they had a minion who did the initial contact and passed you up the chain. The third person was the one you did the actual theft. Now the minion has been dispensed with because "$StupidStory Press One" is cheaper. The actual thief still doesn't know what the $StupidStory was. The person in the middle is tasked with working out whether you have stuff worth nicking.

      Sometimes I try to talk about the place their phone call is supposed to come from. I used to look up the STD code, but these days they just spoof a random number and they don't know what that is. Today I feigned amazement that they had managed to get through because the news had just told me that "the whole of Doncaster is under 8 feet of floodwater" and that was where his phone call had come from.

      Very occasionally I will even let them through to a VM which contains absolutely no useful data. It's a clean install and has visited no websites. It's a shame really, as I had told them I use Internet Banking and all sorts of other tempting stuff. None of them has yet noticed that the desktop wallpaper carries the VMware logo - a dead giveaway.

      Once I have installed their remote control software (almost certainly full of malware), I sometimes announce that I have to go and answer the door, so they can get on with "fixing things" while I am gone.

      They normally head for the saved credentials straight away. It is of course completely empty.

      When I "return" a few minutes later I pick up the phone and ask if they are still there. "Good." I say. "There's a policeman here who wants to talk to you about computer-related crimes. He says that your local force should be breaking down your door any minute now."

      Cue other end hanging up, and a swift re-image.

    11. Olivier2553

      Re: "Microsoft scammers"

      I have been toying with the idea of using a chatbot to reply to email scam.

      Same purpose, keep them busy, while they will reply to my artificially intelligent emails, they will not be scamming some less suspicious persons.

  7. chivo243 Silver badge

    I am calling about your Microsoft!

    Not my Microsoft! I had read about techies getting a call from a purported MS rep, I always wanted to wind one of those bastards up! Then a while back I got a half dozen of these calls in the space of a week. One call while I was in the office when my colleagues could listen in! The first call was magical, I had been struggling with a users Winstall, and with out missing a beat I said, "Wow! you called back in record time! I just got off the phone with your colleague in Desktop Support, I have a workstation that ...." He didn't get it! Others I said stuff like, we don't use windows here, Sun Workstations...

    1. Evil Scot
      Big Brother

      Re: I am calling about your Microsoft!

      I ask "Which computer? The tower? The Laptop? What is the MAC address?"

      Which gets the response " No, No it is not a Mac it is a Vindows PC"

      Icon because 1984 will no longer be like 1984 again.

  8. EGeee

    A fine feature in an artist, less so in a plumber or electrician...

    I'm not sure a bot could yet manage the levels of impressionist improv I've seen demonstrated by several plumbers and electricians.

  9. Alister

    Scam callers

    I was rung by Mike, who wanted to talk to me about the recent road accident I was involved in.

    So not to disappoint him, I said "Oh yes, it was about a month ago, a fatal accident, nobody survived".

    That didn't seem to put him off his script, so we carried on for a minute or two until it had sunk in, then he said "You bastard" and hung up.

    1. 0laf

      Re: Scam callers

      Unfortunately my fun with these guys is being spoiled because they have indeed replaced the "you've been in an accident" callers with robots. It's not AI it's just a script with pauses built in.

      I really think this is unfair, those guys have to play the game. They robo call me about a fictional 'accident' and I get to take the piss for 5 min with a terrible long winded tale of woe at the end of which, just like the comment above, I always die. Or I pretent so be a senile old man with hearing problems that likes to talk about toiletting issues.

      It's really no fun at all finding out the bloody robot isn't listening. It's just not cricket old chap.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Scam callers

        The ones I get all sound like youngish women - and I'm guessing amateurs at the scamming game. As if someone's recruiting mugs to catch mugs.

    2. ma1010

      Re: Scam callers

      I remember one case like that where a potential victim told the caller his name was Adolf Eichman and that he was in an accident in which he had been decapitated. The Indian gentleman never even blinked, just kept asking for his mailing address so they could send him some documents to sign.

  10. Oengus

    Bought back memories

    Another time, I was wondering why my coffee tasted sour until I reached the teabag at the bottom.

    This bought back memories of my army days... We were on exercise and had been out bush for about two weeks. The catering corps had setup a kitchen in the field and we came in for lunch. Some of the guys had coffee from a 20 litre urn and complained as to how crap it was (even for army coffee). I was assigned to help the cooks clean up after lunch. They got me to clean out the coffee and tea urns. On opening the coffee urn and emptying the contents I found a rather large calico bag. I asked the cook what it was. He replied it was what they used as a tea bag. No wonder the coffee was worse than normal. Someone had left the teabag in after breakfast and mistakenly put coffee in for lunch... I never again drank coffee in the field.

    Beer... because I still remember the CO bringing us several cartons from the Officers' Mess to our barracks when we arrived back at base after the OR's Mess had closed.

  11. tiggity Silver badge

    Tiling robot

    Would be superb

    Plenty of scope for algorithms to minimise wasted tiles.

    Should be able to further train it on "understanding" complicated geometric patterns so it will speed through putting up some nice Penrose tiling patterns for you.

    Maybe even add a mosaic module so your floor can have that look of ancient Roman luxury.

    With the correct "arms" could easily get into those hard to reach spots.

    Looks like a win all round .......

    Though the thought of a robot with diamond tipped cutting tools running amok if hacked / faulty is a bit disturbing as could all end up a bit BOFH.

  12. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    The trouble with using AI bots is that we'll get used to them. We got so used to customer service reps having thick indian accents and who were totally oblivious to what they were talking about ('We have an outage in John O'Groats - that could be affecting reception where you are in London'), that now, when we get scam calls from these crooks, we just take it for granted that they can't speak properly.

    Once we get used to AI bots calling us with stuff, we'll think nothing of an AI bot trying to scam us. "Oh it must be BT because it's an automated voice".

    And it's not AI, it's mimicing a simulation of a model of a model of how our brains work, maybe, and it works with statistics. Lots of statistics.

  13. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Est-ce-que c'est vraiment votre minjupe?

    Pourqui est-ce-que c'est jaune? Zut alors!

    That's all from my GCSE level French, carry on...

    1. Teiwaz

      Re: Est-ce-que c'est vraiment votre minjupe?

      That's all from my GCSE level French, carry on...

      One of my GCSE french translation exercises came back noting my translation said.

      'This is my mother, her name is Michele, she is under the table'

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Est-ce-que c'est vraiment votre minjupe?

        Those French and their wine, eh?

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: Est-ce-que c'est vraiment votre minjupe?

      Ceci n'est pas une mini-jupe.

      C'est une filtre du cafe.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

        Re: Est-ce-que c'est vraiment votre minjupe?

        C'est un filtre à café

  14. lglethal Silver badge

    Robot Baristas already exist - you're behind the times Dabbsy

    Havent yet tried one, but they do exist...

  15. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Unwanted flashbacks

    Bovril Soup [sic] from British Rail platform vending machines.

    Mini-cobblers hammering at shoes in shop windows.

    Metal men winding windmills atop of weather vanes.

    I thought I was over those PTSDs. Time for a drink

  16. Mr Dogshit

    heating engineer, plumber

    A heating engineer is a plumber.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: heating engineer, plumber

      My heating is electric but if you know a plumber who could replace a couple of the aircon units, give me a shout.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: heating engineer, plumber

      Or an HVAC tech.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wet Wet Wet

    "So let's have an AI that spouts the same bollocks without any wetwear stinking out the studio."

    Sounds strange, but I can't disagree that if someone left an unwashed old wetsuit in the studio, it probably *would* smell a bit.

  18. stiine Silver badge

    don't give them any ideas....oh wait.

    re: Come to think of it, you could probably replace him with a literal machine.

    I think some groups are already doing that, its just that they also saved money by not actualy hiring a native $language speaker to record the messages in $language.

  19. Tim99 Silver badge

    The (apocryphal?) BOFH statement

    Luser: I can’t do my job properly because of the nasty computer. Fix it now!

    BOFH: Go away before I replace your job with a 12 line script...

    1. Anonymous Custard

      Re: The (apocryphal?) BOFH statement

      ...most of which would be comment lines.

  20. alegr

    Robots making unsolicited calls are out there in the wild, already.

    It's quite easy to spot them, though. Their speech is too good, very smooth. When I ask them "are you a robot", they respond, "no, I'm not. I'm not allowed to deviate from script.".

  21. Daedalus

    Nobody expects

    "He can't be bargained with. He can't be reasoned with. He doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear."

    "You can't Torquemada anything!" - Mel Brooks, "History of the World, Part 1"

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Nobody expects

      Um, that's quoting two films? Didn't Reece say that in Terminator?

      "He can't be bargained with. He can't be reasoned with. He doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear."

  22. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I get several chat bot calls about 'the recent accident' I have had. So when put through to a real person I love to string them along into thinking that I have had a massive injury and they will be getting thousands in commission. They will pretty much swallow any only crap when they get ££ in their eyes.

  23. katrinab Silver badge

    Vending machines that sell coffee are not a new invention. The results usually taste disgusting, but there is no reason why it couldn't be as good as my Nespresso machine.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I once had a summer job in a factory that made yogurt pots. In the squalid staffroom was a drinks vending machine that served a range of vile brews. Buttons labelled Tea, Coffee, Bovril, Orange etc dispensed liquid that tasted of none of these things.

      One day an engineer came to service the machine. Inside were two large plastic containers. One filled with water and the other filled with dark brown goo. We were forced to conclude that the brown goo was diluted in different strengths to produce the different drinks.

      1. Evil_Goblin

        I stayed at a hotel in Spain once that took a similar approach to its spirits.

        All the spirits came out of a soda style gun. I asked the barmaid how they did it, and it was a similar system, essentially "straight alcohol" came through the gun and pressing the appropriate button added the appropriate flavouring depending whether you wanted "whiskey", "gin" etc

        It wasn't too painful when the flavour sachets had been replaced recently, but things progressed, the flavouring got thinner and it just tasted of straight alcohol. The hangovers I got at that place where something else.

    2. Jan 0 Silver badge

      > as good as my Nespresso machine

      You're setting a very low bar.

      Go and try freshly roasted coffee at your local roaster and see what you're missing!

  24. disgruntled yank


    Do the folks at Gymglish not understand about kilts?

  25. TheProf

    Robot calls

    They don't need to come up with clever scripts. Just remove from the call list all the numbers that tell them to 'feck off'.

    Or do they seriously think that I'll suddenly fall for 'your windows is infested with IP faults at the router' if they just keep trying?

  26. Blackjack Silver badge

    Electioneering politician AI

    Go on and program one, even BASIC will do.

    10 cls

    20 print "Hello, suckers, vote for me!"

    30 sleep

    40 end

    Okay I admit I haven't used basic in more than ttwenty years, whatever.

  27. Danny 2

    French folk are cons

    I had a chic Parisian girlfriend and was trying to get an IT job there but my French was too awful. I had Grenoble French, not Paris French. So I was with her and I swore in French to impress her, and she slapped me hard. I said what, I swear in English all the time. "In English it is funny, in French it is rude". So I said you love Serge Gainsbourg and Jaques Brel, and they swear all the time, and she replied, "You are no Brel or Gainsbourg".

    I was working in an international organisation in the Netherlands, officially everyone talked English but unofficially nobody did, not even me apparently. A French guy asked me to call Paul Andrews. I didn't know the guy and had to look up the internal phone book, but because French people can't speak properly I was trying to look up Poland Roos. Roos is a common surname in the Netherlands.

    Everyone, all nationalities, hated the French employees when I started there. Which surprised me because I preferred them. A few months in I totally got it.

  28. HelpfulJohn

    I have a Number One.

    It's just a hot-drinks machine that does multiple flavours. Mine is about as intelligent as our latest P.M. and it only makes two drinks before needing to be refilled but it can basically cook anything fluid.

    All you would need to make an "Artificially Intelligent" one is an arm with a limited range of motions, some sort of decision tree and a supply of ingredients. You could probably do it with a Raspberry Pi and some Meccano for fifty quid. Cover it in painted foam "skin" and Starsludge could save millions.

  29. Olivier2553

    Minitel, really?

    Alistair, you are using a service that display the picture of a Minitel on their main page and you are not suspicious?

    And miniskirt would be ok if only you shaved your legs first.

  30. Muscleguy

    Hit them in the chakras

    Since most of them are in India I ask them if their mothers know they scam people for a living. Hit them in the karma. They don't like that one.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like