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DeSantis-Aligned Super PAC Uses AI to Imitate Trump’s Voice

The AI version of Trump’s voice reads a statement he has published on social media but never said out loud.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a fundraiser on July 15, 2023, in Ankeny, Iowa.

A political action committee aligned with GOP presidential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) has used Artificial Intelligence in an attack ad against former President Donald Trump.

A voice that sounds a lot like Trump’s (who is also running for president next year) is featured in the ad, which was produced by Never Back Down, a super PAC that supports DeSantis for president. Although the voice sounds eerily similar to Trump’s, it is also disjointed and somewhat robotic, likely making it clear to many that it is not really him speaking.

Nevertheless, the use of AI to produce the audio of Trump suggests that the technology will be utilized by a number of political groups in the primaries and likely the general election campaign next fall.

The AI version of Trump uses words that Trump himself has stated — not out loud, but in a post on his Truth Social account. In that statement, Trump blasted Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has said that she will not endorse anyone in the GOP primaries.

“I opened up the governor position for Kim Reynolds, and when she fell behind, I endorsed her, did big rallies, and she won! Now, she wants to remain neutral,” the AI voice said, quoting Trump’s social media post. “I don’t invite her to events.”

The ad then berates Trump for attacking members of his own political party.

“Trump should fight Democrats not Republicans,” the narrator of the ad said.

A spokesperson for Trump decried the ad, suggesting that the super PAC was outsourcing its work because DeSantis is down in the polls and his campaign has lost donors as a result.

“The blatant use of AI to fabricate President Trump’s voice is a desperate attempt…to deceive the American public because they know DeSanctimonious’ campaign is on life support,” Trump campaign adviser Chris LaCitiva said.

Although Trump’s campaign has condemned the DeSantis super PAC for using AI, Trump has used AI in his own campaign videos in the past. In May, after the botched rollout of DeSantis’s presidential campaign, Trump shared an AI-generated video featuring a fake version of DeSantis’s voice, mocking the Florida governor for announcing his run for president on Twitter Spaces.

Campaigns have used imitations to mock opponents in the past, but the use of AI poses significantly deeper and more alarming ethical questions, including whether such deception is harmful to political debate and whether the technology could be used to spread disinformation.

“You’ve got to be able to hope at least and rely on the possibility that somebody is actually telling you know, the truth,” Drake University political science professor Dennis J. Goldford told Des Moines-based KCCI about the DeSantis super PAC ad. “The increasing use of AI in that area, and we’re just at the beginning, poses a real danger to our political discourse.”

Words from AI-generated voices might be “used not to inform you but to manipulate you,” Goldford added.

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