Graduate School and Research Center in Digital Sciences

"Doing being" an ordinary human callee

Relieu, Marc; Sahin, Merve; Francillon, Aurélien

IIEMCA 2019, Conference of the International Institute for Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis, July 2?5, 2019, Mannheim, Germany

Unwanted spam or scam phone calls are often largely disseminated, and very difficult to prevent. These calls may have various purposes, such as selling a product, advertisement, making surveys to pinpoint potential customers, or tricking people into giving up personal information. Facing such difficulties, a new generation of bots have recently been built and used by callees as a countermeasure aiming at mimicking human callees and interacting as long as possible with the caller-spammer. A popular example of such chatbots is a bot named ' Lenny. This chatbot is a set of pre-recorded voice messages that are played during the call: it does not involve any AI or speech processing technology. Yet, our previous work (Sahin, Relieu & Francillon, 2007) shows that this chatbot is surprisingly effective in dealing with several types of spam calls for long durations. Based on an exploration of an audio corpus of 200 recordings of telephone calls to Lenny, this study explores the resources recruited by the callers to deal with two different Lenny's contributions. The first is a next turn repair initiation (Drew, 1997), "I can't barely hear you there". We will show how the situated reception of this "turn" displays an orientation to human abilities, acceptability issues (Svenning 2006) and responsibilities (Robinson, 2006), therefore putting the humanity of Lenny beyond any doubt. The second Lenny's contribution we will discuss is a short narrative telling in which Lenny is grounding the reason for the call in relation to his family life and emotions. We will show how this long turn has been carefully built to trigger some affiliative participation from the callers who frequently show some kind of "emotional reciprocity" (Jefferson & Lee, 1981) with Lenny. During the first part of the turn, callers produce affiliative productions to Lenny"s expressed "feelings", whereas the second part of the turn confirms that the reason for the call fits into the type of family matters which are relevant for Lenny and one of his putative children. Once such precisely designed recordings have been projected into the living course of a phone call, they become turns at talk produced by Lenny, a putative embodied person close to his family. Accomplishing on time understandings in such calls prevents to hear Lenny's vocal productions as mechanically produced recordings, thereby making its botness invisible.

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Title:"Doing being" an ordinary human callee
Department:Digital Security
Eurecom ref:5944
Copyright: © EURECOM. Personal use of this material is permitted. The definitive version of this paper was published in IIEMCA 2019, Conference of the International Institute for Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis, July 2?5, 2019, Mannheim, Germany and is available at :
Bibtex: @inproceedings{EURECOM+5944, year = {2019}, title = {"{D}oing being" an ordinary human callee}, author = {{R}elieu, {M}arc and {S}ahin, {M}erve and {F}rancillon, {A}ur{\'e}lien}, booktitle = {{IIEMCA} 2019, {C}onference of the {I}nternational {I}nstitute for {E}thnomethodology and {C}onversation {A}nalysis, {J}uly 2?5, 2019, {M}annheim, {G}ermany}, address = {{M}annheim, {GERMANY}}, month = {07}, url = {} }
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