From Jail to Online Rally as EX-PM Gives AI-Made Speech

From Jail to Online Rally as EX-PM Gives AI-Made Speech

Former Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan delivered an AI-made speech to his supporters ahead of the general election coming in February next year.

Using AI, Khan’s supporters have managed to create a voice clone, allowing him to give a speech, much to the delight of tens of thousands of supporters who attended a virtual rally.

Although he has been in jail since August this year, he has remained the face of his party, the Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

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Riot-rousing speeches

Khan was put behind bars after he was found guilty of corruption in August. The politician was also accused of leaking classified documents, although he repeatedly denied the allegation. He said such allegations were meant to deny him a chance to contest the polls scheduled for February next year.

According to a CNN report, Pakistan’s media regulator banned television stations from airing Khan’s speeches following his brief arrest in May, which ignited riots and resulted in the government shutting down the internet for three days.

But the ban has not stopped the politician and his party from reaching out to supporters.

The party has now turned to AI to allow the cricketer-turned-politician to campaign for his party.

The virtual rally

While legal proceedings against the former cricket captain have taken place behind closed doors, no images of Khan either in jail or in court have been shared with the public since his August incarceration.

Last Sunday, his party, Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), held an online rally. The rally lasted for about seven hours. During the rally, the party released about a four-minute clip that used AI to mimic Khan’s voice.

The audio clip was reportedly “overlayed with old footage and photographs of the country’s former leader.”

“My fellow Pakistanis, first, I would like to praise my social media team for this historic attempt,” said the AI Voice.

“Perhaps you are wondering what my condition is in jail… My determination for real freedom is strong.”

The AI voice went on, saying, “Our party is not allowed to hold public rallies… Our people are being kidnapped, and families are being harassed.”

Scores drawn to the rally

Khan’s Sunday rally drew scores of viewers across social media platforms. According to CNN, the rally had over 1.4 million views on YouTube and tens of thousands of other viewers on other social media platforms.

In the clip, the voice mimicking Khan encouraged supporters to vote in the upcoming general elections set for Feb. 8.

“The party that has the support of 75% of the people is being kept out of the electoral process,” said the AI voice.

The voice added, “Our party is not allowed to hold public rallies… Our people are being kidnapped, and families are being harassed.”

However, NetBlocks, an internet watchdog that monitors cybersecurity, indicated that major social media platforms in Pakistan, like Instagram, Facebook, and X, were restricted for the duration of the PTI’s virtual rally.

AI breaking barriers

Generative AI and its use in audio recordings are increasingly being seen as an example of how the technology has been used by politicians battling state suppression, according to CNN. The technology is also being used to break language barriers.

Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Åkesson recently delivered “a speech to the nation” in Arabic, drawing the attention of Swedes “particularly by his supporters.”

AI has become an integral part of the election; it has become an active participant in the race across regions, from the US to Africa.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.