Pakistani ex-PM Imran Khan uses AI 'voice clone' from jail

The former Pakistani prime minister is in jail over charges of leaking classified documents. His team has released an audio message using artificial intelligence to mimic the politician's voice

Jailed Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's team has released an AI message to supporters imitating the politician's voice (photo: DW)
Jailed Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's team has released an AI message to supporters imitating the politician's voice (photo: DW)
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DW

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed his supporters through an AI-created message on Monday, 18 December.

Khan is accused of leaking classified documents and has been in jail since August.

His government was ousted in a no-confidence motion in April 2022.

Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) party said it used artificial intelligence to create an audio message imitating the politician's voice.

PTI is barred from holding public rallies. State censors also banned Khan from radio and TV appearances after his arrest in May sparked riots.

Global network monitor NetBlocks said social media was restricted for seven hours starting late Sunday, 17 December. The incident was "consistent with previous instances of internet censorship" targeting Khan and the PTI, it said.

What did the AI message say?

"My fellow Pakistanis, I would first like to praise the social media team for this historic attempt," the AI-generated text-to-speech message said.

 "Maybe you all are wondering how I am doing in jail," the voice added. "Today, my determination for real freedom is very strong."

 "Our party is not allowed to hold public rallies," he said, urging supporters to vote in general elections scheduled for early February. "Our people are being kidnapped and their families are being harassed."

The message was marked as an "AI voice of Imran Khan based on his notes."

PTI said that Khan sent his team a shorthand script, which was then fleshed out by lawyers and passed through a "voice clone" AI tool.

The message was broadcast at the end of a five-hour live stream of speeches by PTI supporters on social media platforms. It was viewed by over 4.5 million people across Facebook, X and YouTube.

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Published: 19 Dec 2023, 10:55 AM
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