Automatic and crowd-sourced White/Black lists.
They brilliant ideas seem vaguely familiar...
20 October 2012:
It's a monumentally stupid contest...
"In addition to the technical measures that could be implemented by the Telcos (described above), the solutions at the individual subscriber level are kind-of duh-obvious.
A $50 pico-PBX like gadget, typically installed in the basement, optionally Internet enabled. It eats the first ring (silent) and then examines the incoming Caller ID. White-Listed CallerIDs (family, friends, etc. and perhaps any dialed-out numbers auto added) go straight through on the 2nd ring. Black-Listed CallerIDs (or CallerIDs with Black-Listed formats) are automatically dealt with, optionally instant answer+hang-up or toyed with to waste their bandwidth). Blocked or Unknown CallerIDs get sent to an audio Captcha, and then either rung through or sent to voice mail. Area Codes can be White- or Black-listed. Sent to voice mail should be the default for unknowns.
Time rules can be applied, knowing that most spam happens at supper time. Rules can be tightened at midnight to dawn.
The system would benefit from a PA system to announce the CallerID in cases where the system concludes that some human interruption might be required. But the general rule is silent performance, the rings don't even get through in most cases.
Voice recognition (Internet powered) would enable a butler-like Q&A by the PBX robot asking "Who would you like to speak to?", and connecting those knowing a valid name (already having passed the CallerID-reasonableness test).
The Internet connection would enable a rich GUI and would - of course - permit crowd-sourced Black-Lists.
All of this could also be implemented at your Telco's local 'Central Office', but one time $50 gadget purchase might be a lot cheaper than $8 a month forever.
At the telco, lessons can be learned from Google's Gmail spam filter - effectively overseeing the "crowd" makes it essentially perfect. Any line making hundreds of calls should be automatically Black-Listed unless authorized in advance. It should be an extra feature to be able to make more than X hundred outgoing calls a week. Control it at the source with licenses for such outgoing-heavy accounts.
I consider all the above solution contributions to be trivially obvious. That's why the contest is so incredibly stupid. It's a solved problem already. The issue is the willingness to solve it.
Where do I pick up my cheque? Doh, I'm not an American."