"People stop me on the street all the time, they say 'I don’t know you speak Mandarin.'"

Domo Arigato

While announcing the city's plan to handle artificial intelligence, New York City's galaxy-brained mayor bragged that his voice is now being cloned to make robocalls in Mandarin and Yiddish.

"People stop me on the street all the time, they say 'I don’t know you speak Mandarin,'" Adams said at a Monday press conference. "Conversational AI is amazing — once you put the script in, you can put in any language you want, with my voice."

For what it's worth, the thing Adams is referencing here is AI voice cloning used to make pre-recorded automated messages, not conversational AI, which is used to generate human-like conversations between a person and a machine — but there's not much use splitting hairs when it comes to this guy's outrageous antics.

As Politico points out, the robocalls, which per the mayor's commentary seem to have also been translated into Yiddish, Urdu, and possibly Spanish, did not disclose that they were generated with AI voice cloning.

To Adams' mind, at least, those concerns are beside the point.

"These are part of the broader conversations that the philosophical people will have to sit down and figure out, 'Is this ethically right or wrong?' I’ve got one thing: I’ve got to run the city," the mayor continued. "And I have to be able to speak to people in languages that they understand and I’m happy to do so."

Programming Note

In spite of the weirdness of the multilingual robocalls — and the cop-turned-politician's strange and seemingly false claim that he was once a "computer programmer" — the main thrust of the press conference was to announce the city's extensive "AI action plan," which includes the MyCity Chatbot, described as a "one-stop shop for city services and benefits."

"For the first time, business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs will be able to direct their questions to an AI‑powered chatbot rather than scan through Web page after Web page," Adams said. "That is behind us; AI‑generated answering is in front of us."

As a disclaimer points out, the MyCity Chatbot was built using Microsoft's Azure AI, which, in turn, has been optimized with OpenAI's ChatGPT in a sort of AI ouroboros situation.

The MyCity Chatbot is, as the mayor bragged, trained on about 2,000 pages of documents regarding city codes, permitting requirements, and "best practices." When Futurism asked the chatbot who Eric Adams and Rudy Giuliani were, however, it could not tell us.

New York City's MyCity Chatbot doesn't know the names of its current and former mayor. Image via NYC.gov/screenshot.

During the presser, Adams — who infamously decided to relaunch the NYPD's notorious "digidog" robot in spite of it being widely despised — proudly proclaimed himself a "techie." If we had to bank on what we've seen so far from the city's high-tech endeavors under this administration, however, we'd be forced to call the mayor's bluff.

More on NYC: Scientists Say No, NYC Isn't Sinking Because of Its Skyscrapers

Share This Article