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Richland Student Media

Richland Student Media

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Richland Chronicle 5/07/24
Richland Chronicle 5/07/24

Dead kids robocall US lawmakers

AI used to recreate gun violence victims’ voices in phone campaign
Voices from some of the teenage victims of gun violence are being used to lobby US lawmakers thanks to AI technology. (Photo/file)

They may have been killed, but they will not be silenced. Families of kids and young adults who were slain by gun violence in incidents ranging from suicide to school shootings are using AI to recreate the voices of their loved ones and mailing them to politicians in the form of robocalls.
Recently, they created a website that allows anyone with internet access to mail an audio recording of a loved ones’ artificially recreated voice to a politician of their choosing.
Their goal is to get politicians to ban the sale of military-style semi-automatic rifles as well as implement stricter gun laws.
In the years following the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Manuel and Patricia Oliver, parents of 17-year-old shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, have been campaigning for tighter gun laws.
They attempted to meet with the politicians and were ignored multiple times.
Fed up with being ignored, they decided to take advantage of AI technology to recreate their son’s voice and mail it to the politicians.
The Olivers created a roughly minute-long AI audio recording of Joaquin’s voice. The chilling message, consisting of things Joaquin would say if he were still alive, criticizes politicians who oppose stricter gun laws for not adequately addressing the plague of gun violence that has gripped the country for decades.
“You don’t care. You never did. It’s been six years, and you’ve done nothing. Not a thing to stop all the shootings that have continued to happen since.”
Other families, such as the family of Uziyah Garcia, a 10-year-old student at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, joined in.
The regenerated voices of Oliver and Garcia are just two of the half dozen voices on theshotline.org.
Others include Mike Baughan, a young man who killed himself in 2014 with a gun he was able to purchase in 15 minutes; Jaycee Webster, a 20-year-old who was shot and killed by intruders in 2017; Ethan Song, a 15-year-old killed by an unsecured gun at a friend’s house in 2018; and Akilah Dasilva, a 23-year-old killed in the 2018 Waffle House shooting in Tennessee.
The Olivers hope the calls will put pressure on lawmakers to shift their positions.
“We have nothing to lose here,” Manuel said.
“We have already lost everything. I can do this and for me, it’s normal. The only thing that is not normal is that we are letting our society let people die.”
The Olivers have been criticized by those who feel their approach to be creepy. Their response: “Of course it’s creepy. Not worse than a 19-year-old holding an AR-15 inside a school.”

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