Lenny, the chatbot that answers telemarketing switchboards

A system developed by (at the moment) anonymous researchers is able to hold conversations with call centers with an average duration of more than 10 minutes

Well soon you may have a new ally in the fight against call centers and serial jammers targeting your phone number. An ally named Lenny. That's the name of an artificial intelligence system developed by an unknown programmer and shown during a conference dedicated to computer security systems.

To tell the truth, Lenny isn't a revolutionary invention or anything: it's a collection of phrases recorded by a real person (specifically, an elderly person) that simulate a probable conversation with a telephone exchange. The phrases are then repeated randomly during the conversation, so that the interlocutor does not realize he is talking to an artificial intelligence. Although there are still doubts about the nature and some of the features of Lenny, the artificial intelligence has already become a real star online: some videos have garnered over a million views, with enthusiastic comments from users.

How Lenny works, the recorded voice that fights call centers

As we said, Lenny is an artificial intelligence that draws answers from a large database of recorded phrases. Lenny's voice is that of a "graceful" old man, designed specifically to annoy those on the other end of the phone. Depending on who is on the other side of the phone, Lenny draws the most suitable phrases from his repertoire with only one goal: to make calls last as long as possible.

The beauty of this system, based on a real voice, is that no one or almost no one notices that they are talking to a recording. Researchers have analyzed a hundred videos of Lenny on YouTube and have found that the average duration of calls is more than 10 minutes, although on a couple of occasions the artificial intelligence has "forced" the interlocutor on the phone for over 40 minutes. On many occasions, then, call center operators end calls with various expletives, believing they are talking to a real person.