Robot calling

Want $50,000 and an end to robots calling you and stealing away precious moments you could have spent not talking to a robot? The Federal Trade Commission is holding a contest for anyone who can build a technology that can block these calls and will give them that pretty chunk of change as a reward.

“Robo-calling” people is illegal. You know that local campaign that keeps bugging you to get “your support” or someone who has a great sales opportunity, all you have to do is press one? Those aren’t allowed. But while our laws have caught up to these practices, the technology behind them is getting smarter and more under-the-radar.

“The vast majority of telephone calls that deliver a prerecorded message trying to sell something to the recipient are illegal,” the FTC said on its website. “As technology has advanced over the years, so have the number of illegal robocalls.”

The contest will officially open in six days on October 25, 2012. It ends on January 17, when judging begins. Contestants will find out if they’ve won on April 1.

Entries must block these calls on both landlines and mobile phones but must include both the idea and the proof of concept. All entrants will keep ownership of their creation. Judging will be based half on if it actually works, a quarter on how easy it is to use, and the last quarter on if it can be rolled out. Judges include FTC chief technology officer Steve Bellovin, Federal Communications Commission CTO Henning Schulzrinne, and All Things Digital co-executive editor Kara Swisher.

hat tip CNET; Robot calling image via Shutterstock