Nebraska lawmakers’ AI-cloned voices inspire legislative action

Nebraska lawmakers who reviewed their cloned voices said they were "scary close." New legislation would impose civil penalties for misuses of AI.
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Several Nebraska lawmakers agreed to have their voices cloned through generative artificial intelligence as a part of a class project at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, prompting legislators to consider introducing bills that would regulate AI technology in a way that balances its merits with potential consequences. 

The Nebraska Examiner reported Monday that the legislators that reviewed their cloned voices determined that while the results were shockingly close to their authentic voices, there were some nuances that helped clue them into whether or not they were real. However, they worried that constituents who had never heard them speak may not be able to make the distinction, prompting concerns of misinformation and disinformation spreading among voters.

“It’s scary close, and it’s only going to get better,” Nebraska state Sen. Jana Hughes told the Nebraska Examiner, adding that the challenge in responding to the technology with proper legislation is difficult because it’s constantly evolving.

Nebraska state Sen. Beau Ballard told the Examiner that although he envisions potential benefits of AI when it comes to workforce and job development, it also has the potential to be the most harmful technology “in probably the history of the world.”


The 2024 legislative session began last week in Nebraska and one senator has already unveiled plans to introduce AI legislation. State Sen. John Cavanaugh’s proposal would replicate a law from Michigan that requires disclosure of AI if it’s used in political advertisements. Similar laws regulating deepfakes already exist in California, Minnesota, Texas and Washington, and more states are considering comparable legislation. 

One difference between Cavanaugh’s proposal and the Michigan is that his law would include civil penalties through the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, instead of criminal penalties.

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