New York Mayor Eric Adams has recently come under scrutiny for deploying artificial intelligence to create deepfake robocalls in multiple languages, presenting himself as a multilingual communicator.
While the mayor celebrated the technology as a revolutionary tool for linguistic outreach, some critics label it as “deeply unethical.”
Modern and Controversial Publicity Stunt
Mayor Adams proudly announced a groundbreaking initiative during a press conference at City Hall, unveiling the utilization of conversational AI to produce robocalls in various languages, all voiced by the mayor himself.
Why Bother Learning The Lingo?
These calls are designed to reach New Yorkers who speak languages such as Yiddish and Mandarin without having to physically learn a single word.
Fostering Multilingual Dialogue
The mayor shared his enthusiasm for conversational AI, “We have started doing robocalls with my voice in many different languages,” he said, claiming he’s “really excited” about the revelation.
Debunking the Deepfake
Unsurprisingly, these calls led to the misconception that Mayor Adams is genuinely speaking these languages, sparking false admiration among New Yorkers.
Ethical Concerns Arise
Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, voiced strong ethical concerns about this practice, describing it as “deeply Orwellian” and criticizing it as a “creepy vanity project.”
Mystery Surrounding the Calls
The exact content of these robocalls remains shrouded in mystery. It’s unclear how many New Yorkers have received them or what information they contain.
Linguistic Outreach to the Jewish Community
Adams shared a specific instance where the city used “creepy” deepfake technology to communicate with the Jewish population in Yiddish about potential job opportunities.
Embracing Deepfake Technology
Mayor Adams saw this as a responsible use of the AI tool, “This is some amazing technology that we need to wrap our heads around and not be afraid of,” he said.
Price Tag Unclear
The cost of implementing deepfake robocalls in multiple languages has not been disclosed, leaving a significant financial question mark.
Previous mayors, such as Bill de Blasio, employed more honorable approaches to connect with diverse communities, with de Blasio taking Spanish lessons and delivering remarks in Spanish.
Adams’ Linguistic Background
Unlike his predecessors, Mayor Adams is fluent only in English, making his recent multilingual foray even more comedic.
Making Light of the AI Tool
Mayor Adams himself made a joke about the situation, insisting, “People stop me in the street all the of the time and say, ‘I didn’t know you speak Mandarin,” which could be considered troubling.
City Hall’s Silence
When asked about the deepfake robocalls, City Hall did not immediately respond for comment, leaving many questions unanswered.
AI-Powered MyCity Chatbot
This revelation coincided with the launch of MyCity Chatbot, an AI-driven assistant aimed at helping businesses navigate the city’s vast web of information.
The bot initially serves English speakers but has plans to expand its language offerings.
Mayor Embraces AI
Mayor Adams, known for his advocacy of technological advancements, sees AI as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to enhance government services.
Could AI Take Over? Mayor Addresses Worries
Mayor Adams reassured New Yorkers that AI is not about replacing humans but rather improving their quality of life.
Expanding AI Initiatives
City officials presented a multi-year plan for AI integration in various city agencies, demonstrating their commitment to harnessing technology for better governance.
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