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Fake audio recording |  The Schoolmaster's Adventure, an illustration of the dangers of artificial intelligence

Fake audio recording | The Schoolmaster's Adventure, an illustration of the dangers of artificial intelligence

(Washington) After the outrage sparked by the broadcast of racist remarks in an American high school attributed to the school principal, I was dizzy when I discovered that the soundtrack had been compiled from scratch. This episode highlights the dangers of AI becoming accessible to everyone.

Eric Eiswert, the principal of a school in Pikesville, Maryland, near Washington, found himself at the center of a violent controversy over an audio recording — which turned out to be fake — of him making shocking comments against Jewish students and “ungrateful black kids.”

This case, which occurred in the middle of an election year in the United States, highlights how easy it is to use generative AI tools to harm anyone, and the difficulties authorities face in combating such practices.

“Now everyone is at risk,” not just celebrities, warns Hani Farid, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley (West).

“It only takes one photo to add a person to a video, and 30 seconds of audio to reproduce someone's voice,” continues the specialist in detecting digitally manipulated images and recordings, who was consulted by the police in this case.

When the recording leaked to social media in January, it went viral. One post racks up thousands of comments on Instagram, thrusting the school into the center of a national debate.

Civil rights activist DeRay McKesson calls for the director's resignation on his X account, followed by nearly a million Internet users. He will admit to being abused.

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Hate messages are flooding social media and threatening phone calls are increasing in the organization. “The world would be better if you were underground,” one netizen wrote to the school principal.

The latter was placed on leave and his house was placed under protection. Contacted by Agence France-Presse, he did not respond.


“I'm still concerned about the harm caused by this case,” says Billy Burke, the union director who represents the school's principal.

At the end of April, authorities arrested Dazon Darin, 31, a high school athletic director, on charges of being behind the fraud. Investigators traced it to the email address that initially shared the file.

He was going to act to retaliate against the investigation opened against him by the school principal regarding suspicious payments.

The defendant conducted a search for artificial intelligence tools from the high school's computer network, according to the indictment.

The soundtrack, according to the analysis of an expert consulted by police, “contains traces of artificial intelligence-generated content, with subsequent human editing.”

District Attorney Scott Shellenberger said this case illustrates the need to “adapt the law to advances in technology.”

Many American high schools already have to struggle against students distributing pornographic images of their classmates captured using generative artificial intelligence, a practice that has caused terrible waves of harassment.

Audio montage is especially difficult to spot. Last January, a message broadcast by automated phone calls simulating the voice of President Joe Biden encouraged Democratic voters in the state of New Hampshire (northeast of the country) to abstain from voting in the party's primary elections.

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In Pikeville, the case has shaken residents, who are “very close to each other,” says Parker Bratton, a high school golf coach.

“There is only one boss, but there are a million managers!” “People ask: What will happen to me if someone decides to ruin my career?” “.