Speaking AI: Mayor’s Multilingual Robocalls Stir Ethical Debate
In a world where technology continually blurs the line between reality and innovation, New York City Mayor Eric Adams has found himself in a peculiar linguistic conundrum. Adams recently revealed the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to create multilingual robocalls, raising ethical questions about the government’s engagement with this evolving technology. In this article, we’ll dive into the details of this controversial revelation, exploring its implications, ethics, and the broader AI landscape.
The Multilingual Robocall Controversy
Mayor Adams stirred the pot by disclosing the deployment of AI-driven robocalls in languages he doesn’t personally speak, such as Mandarin and Yiddish. These calls were intended to promote city hiring events, but they lacked transparency about their AI origin and the mayor’s linguistic limitations.
Ethical Concerns and Misleading Practices
The use of AI for multilingual communication is a double-edged sword. While it aims to connect with the diverse population of New York City, it raises valid ethical concerns. The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project criticized these robocalls as misleading and likened them to “deep fakes.” The lack of disclosure and the impression that the mayor speaks these languages independently are at the heart of the controversy.
The Broader AI and Deepfake Landscape
Adams’ AI-language controversy is just one instance in the larger narrative of AI and deepfake technology. Deepfakes, whether in video or audio form, have been used for various purposes, including political manipulation. Regulators, tech giants, and lawmakers are grappling with how to navigate this rapidly evolving landscape.
Tech Giants and Regulation
Tech giants like Google and Meta have taken steps to address deceptive AI-generated content, particularly in political advertisements. These measures involve labeling and policies to curb misinformation. Additionally, bipartisan efforts in the U.S. Senate aim to ban “materially deceptive” deepfakes concerning federal candidates.
AI’s Language Transformation
The mayor’s revelation aligns with the broader trend of AI-driven language transformation. Spotify introduced an AI feature to translate podcasts into multiple languages while preserving the podcaster’s voice. Startups like ElevenLabs have also delved into voice translation tools.
Adams’ Defense and Language Inclusivity
Mayor Adams has defended his use of AI, emphasizing his office’s commitment to reaching New Yorkers in their preferred languages. While he acknowledges the controversy, his intention remains rooted in effective communication.
The AI-language controversy surrounding Mayor Adams shines a spotlight on the ethical complexities of technology’s role in politics and communication. As AI continues to evolve, the boundaries between authenticity and innovation blur. The path forward requires thoughtful consideration of ethics, transparency, and the ever-changing AI landscape.
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