The FCC has declared that AI-generated robocalls are now illegal in the US following hoax phone calls that used generative AI (GenAI) to pose as US President Joe Biden. 

Residents in the US state of New Hampshire received calls that appeared to be from Biden encouraging them not to vote in initial primaries.  

Following these calls, 46 state attorney generals wrote to the FCC requesting that they take action against AI-generated robocalls. 

“It is apparent that AI technologies will continue to both rapidly develop and permeate an already complex telecommunications ecosystem,” wrote the attorney generals in a letter that can be found here. “… By working together, we can better protect consumers from the harms resulting from the illicit use of these emerging technologies.” 

The ruling on AI-generated phone calls is part of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and is effective immediately.

The FCC also clarified that state attorney generals will be provided with AI detection software to crack down on bad actors using GenAI in this way. 

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By GlobalData

The FCC stated that the use of AI-generated voices in robocalls had risen significantly in the past couple of years. GenAI’s ability to mimic the voices of people known to potential fraud victims can make them more susceptible to scams. 

“Bad actors are using AI-generated voices in unsolicited robocalls to extort vulnerable family members, imitate celebrities and misinform voters,” stated FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “State attorneys general will now have new tools to crack down on these scams and ensure the public is protected from fraud and misinformation.” 

Research has shown that humans cannot reliably distinguish AI-generated voices from human voices when hearing them side by side. 

GenAI is on track to be the fastest-growing segment of AI technology, according to forecasts from research and analysis company GlobalData. 

In its executive briefing on AI, GlobalData forecast that by 2030 the global AI market will be worth more than $909bn. 

In a recent 2023 survey conducted by GlobalData, around 12% of businesses stated that they had a high adoption rate of AI into their workflows. A further 20% answered that they had a moderate adoption rate. 

As AI becomes more widely used in business and becomes easier to access, its role in robocalls could also become greater, potentially creating fraud victims of people who would previously not be vulnerable to scams.