Sunday, 19 May 2024
WorldAI-generated call impersonates Biden, apparently to discourage voting in New Hampshire

AI-generated call impersonates Biden, apparently to discourage voting in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire attorney general’s office announced Monday that it was investigating reports of a robocall in which artificial intelligence was apparently used to imitate President Joe Biden’s voice and discourage the state’s voters from participating in Tuesday’s primary.

Attorney General John Formella said the recorded message, which was sent to several voters on Sunday, appears to be an illegal attempt to affect and suppress the vote. He added that voters “should ignore the entire content of the message.”

The Associated Press analyzed a recording of the call, which produces a voice similar to Biden’s and uses his usual phrase: “What a load of nonsense.” He later asks the person on the other end of the line to “save your vote for the November election.”

“Voting this Tuesday only makes it easier for Republicans in their mission to elect Donald Trump again,” says the recording in a voice imitating Biden. “Your vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday.”

It is not true that voting in Tuesday’s primary will prevent voters from participating in the November general election. Biden is not campaigning in New Hampshire and his name will not appear on Tuesday’s primary ballots after he designated South Carolina as the starting point for the Democratic primary, although his allies have begun a campaign to have him Biden’s name is written on the state ballots.

It is currently unknown who is behind these calls, although those who receive them falsely believe that they come from a personal cell phone number of Kathy Sullivan, the former chair of the state Democratic Party who helps run Granite for America, a campaign committee. in favor of Biden.

Sullivan said he alerted law enforcement and filed a complaint with prosecutors after several voters in the state reported the calls Sunday night.

“The call appears with my personal cell phone number without my permission,” he said in a statement. “This is outright election interference, and a clear attempt to harass me and other New Hampshire voters who plan to write Joe Biden’s name on the ballot on Tuesday.”

It’s unclear how many people received such calls, but a spokeswoman for Sullivan said she heard about at least a dozen. The state attorney’s office encouraged anyone who received these types of calls to email the election law unit of the state Department of Justice.

Gail Huntley, a 73-year-old Democrat who plans to write Biden’s name on the ballot Tuesday, said she got the call around 6:25 p.m. Sunday.

He immediately recognized Biden’s voice, but soon realized it was fake because what he was saying didn’t make sense. At first he thought they had taken his words out of context.

“At the time I didn’t think it wasn’t his real voice. That’s how convincing it was,” he said. He added that he is alarmed, though not surprised, that these types of AI-generated fakes are spreading in his state.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed Monday that the call “is fake and was not recorded by the president.” Biden’s campaign manager, Julie Chávez Rodríguez, said in a statement that the campaign is “actively discussing other actions to be implemented immediately.”

“We will not allow disinformation to be spread to suppress the vote and deliberately undermine free and fair elections, and combating any attempt to undermine our democracy will remain a top priority of this campaign,” he said.

The apparent attempted voter suppression using generative AI technology is an example of what experts warn will make 2024 an unprecedented year of election misinformation around the world.

AI digital manipulations have already appeared in campaign ads during the 2024 presidential race, and the technology has been misused to spread disinformation in elections around the world in the last year, from Slovakia to Indonesia to Taiwan.

“We were concerned that generative AI would be used as a weapon in the upcoming elections and we are seeing what will undoubtedly be a sample of what is to come,” said Hany Farid, a digital forensics expert at the University of California, Berkeley. who reviewed the call recording and confirmed that it is a relatively low-quality AI fake.

As artificial intelligence technology improves, the federal government is struggling to cope. Congress has yet to approve an initiative that attempts to regulate the industry’s role in politics despite some bipartisan support. The Federal Election Commission is reviewing public comments regarding a request to regulate AI digital manipulations in campaign ads.

Although the use of generative AI to influence elections is relatively new, “robocalls and dirty tricks are not,” said David Becker, a former federal Justice Department lawyer and election law expert who now directs the Center for Electoral Innovation and Research.

He noted that it is difficult to determine whether the primary goal of the calls in New Hampshire was to suppress the vote or simply “continue the process of disconnecting Americans from the facts and truth when it comes to our democracy.”

“They don’t need to convince us that what they are saying, the lies they tell, are true,” he said. “They just need to convince us that there is no truth, that we cannot believe everything they tell us.”

Katie Dolan, a campaign spokeswoman for Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, who is running against Biden in the Democratic primary, said Phillips’ team was not involved and that she learned of the hoax after a reporter called her seeking comment. .

“Any attempt to discourage voters is a regrettable and unacceptable affront to democracy,” Dolan said in a statement. “The potential use of AI to manipulate voters is extremely disturbing.”

The Trump campaign claimed it had nothing to do with the recording but declined to comment further.

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