New York City Mayor Eric Adams is using artificial intelligence (AI) to issue robocalls from his office in Mandarin, Urdu, Yiddish, and other languages, despite not speaking any of them.
City Hall is using voice cloning artificial intelligence to create audio public service announcements that sound just like him. Adams has expressed that conversational AI is amazing and can be used in any language you want with his voice.
The calls do not include a disclaimer that they were created with generative AI, but Adams has waved off concerns that he could be misleading New Yorkers about his language prowess: “These are part of the broader conversations that the philosophical people will have to sit down and figure out, ‘Is this ethically right or wrong?’ I’ve got one thing: I’ve got to run the city.”
The phone calls have been inviting New Yorkers to hiring halls to help fill the high number of vacant city jobs. Assemblyman Clyde Vanel (D-Queens) has introduced a bill that would require disclosures when AI technology is used in political ads, with the fear being that a candidate could falsely clone a political opponent’s voice for political objectives.
Adams has embraced technology as mayor, taking steps to legalize commercial drone flights and expanding the use of four-legged robots called digidogs. The city is also launching an AI chatbot on the Department of Small Business Services website that can answer questions about city regulations and more for small business owners.
Microsoft has a tool, VALL-E X, that can take someone’s voice and create audio of them speaking a different language. Adams said that the fear of abuse should not get in the way of the use of the technology.