Biden calls for ban on AI voice generations during State of the Union

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Saturday, March 9, 2024
Biden calls for ban on AI voice generations during State of the Union
President Joe Biden called for a ban on AI voice generations during his State of the Union speech on Thursday.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- President Joe Biden took credit for the improving economy in his State of the Union speech Thursday.

He also addressed artificial intelligence, saying he wants to harness the promise of it - especially one element that had a direct impact on him.

The President saying in part:

"Pass bipartisan privacy legislation to protect our children online, harness the promise of AI to protect us from peril, ban AI voice impersonations and more," he said.

RELATED: State of the Union: Takeaways from President Biden's address to the nation

The words gave some indication about how Biden plans to mitigate the risks of AI.

The President experienced one of those risks first-hand.

"We had that incident of some kind of AI-generated voice of the President in New Hampshire," said Professor Ahmed Banafa of San Jose State University.

ABC News obtained audio of the call.

It impersonated the President and told people to "save their vote" for the general election instead of participating in the New Hampshire Primary.

MORE: Biden White House, tech companies launch new safeguards around emerging AI technology

Last month, the FCC got involved.

"The FCC clarified that Under the TCPA, which is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that was enacted in 1991, that AI voice calls are considered artificial," said Joe Lawlor, IP litigation partner with Haynes Boone, "So those artificial calls are largely prohibited already under the TCPA."

Lawlor said Biden's comments could mean he wants to expand protections against AI generated voices.

"I think what Biden is talking about is broader than that and he wants to talk about the use of AI generated voice in any medium," Lawlor said, "Posts on the internet, video songs, etc., that generally falls under Right of Publicity law."

Right of Publicity law varies state by state.

"This is an emerging technology so you have a situation where it could be dealt with differently in every state," Lawlor said, "So when I hear Biden talk about outlawing AI voice impersonation, I think he's referring to a potential federal law that would cover all AI voice impersonation in all the states."

MORE: President Biden fundraisers, artificial intelligence meeting on day 2 of Bay Area visit

Lawmakers have put into place a draft law called the No Fakes Act.

It's a bipartisan proposal but still has critics.

"One of their criticisms has been that this is just too early, we should wait for the technology to develop first before we start enacting laws, because we know it can be very difficult to amend and change those laws once they're in place," Lawlor said of the critics.

Lawlor said that as the technology grows, legal guidance will likely improve as more courts deal with the issues.

Meanwhile following Biden's remarks, he said we could expect to hear more from the President and lawmakers.

"I'm assuming that proposal and others will gain more prominence given the attention paid by Biden at the State of the Union," Lawlor said.

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