NYC Mayor Eric Adams has been using artificial intelligence to make robocalls that contort his own voice into several languages he doesn't actually speak.
The mayor of New York City has been making calls with the help of artificial intelligence (AI).
Eric Adams said that the robocalls have gone out in languages such as Mandarin and Yiddish to promote the city's hiring events. They did not disclose that they were made using AI.
"People stop me on the street all the time and say, ‘I didn’t know you speak Mandarin, you know?’" said Adams.
"The robocalls that we’re using, we’re using different languages to speak directly to the diversity of New Yorkers."
For some, these calls raise ethical questions about the disclosure of government use of the technology.
The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, a watchdog group based in New York, criticised the robocalls as an unethical use of AI.
“The mayor is making deep fakes of himself,” said Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the organisation.
“This is deeply unethical, especially on the taxpayer’s dime. Using AI to convince New Yorkers that he speaks languages that he doesn’t is outright Orwellian. Yes, we need announcements in all of New Yorkers’ native languages, but the deep fakes are just a creepy vanity project.”
It comes as authorities struggle to determine how best to regulate the use of AI, especially as deepfake technology improves.
Adams defended himself against ethical questions about his use of artificial intelligence, saying his office is trying to reach New Yorkers through the languages they speak.
“I got one thing: I’ve got to run the city, and I have to be able to speak to people in the languages that they understand, and I’m happy to do so,” he said.
“And so, to all, all I can say is a ‘ni hao.’"