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The Imran Khan campaign uses an artificial intelligence clone.

PoliticsThe Imran Khan campaign uses an artificial intelligence clone.

Artificial intelligence allowed Pakistan's former prime minister to campaign from behind bars on Monday, with a voice clone of the opposition leader giving an emotional speech. Khan has been locked up since August and is being tried for leaking classified documents, allegations he says have been trumped up to stop him contesting general elections in February. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf used artificial intelligence to make a four-minute message from the 71-year-old, but the internet disruptions that monitor NetBlocks said were were. Khan's rhetorical style was put into a shorthand script that was then dubbed into audio using an artificial intelligence tool. The voice mimicking Khan said, "My fellow Pakistanis, I would first like to praise the social media team for this historic attempt."

The audio was broadcast at the end of a five-hour live-stream of speeches by PTI supporters on Facebook, X and YouTube. The bookended video clips from the onetime cricket star's speeches were genuine, but a caption appeared at intervals that said it was the "ai voice of Imran Khan based on his notes". The social media chief of the Pakistan People's Party said that it was a no-brainer for them to go ahead with it.

The first political party in Pakistan to use social media to reach younger voters was the PTI. There is no complete political rally without Imran Khan.

After Khan's arrest in May sparked riots, the state banned him from the air. The virtual rally was viewed by more than 4.5 million people across Facebook, X and YouTube. I will give them marks for trying.

Nothing can replace a real rally and a speech.

The digitally delivered oration was praised by Hussain Afroze, a media worker.

Bad actors may use artificial intelligence to impersonate leaders and sow misinformation, but less is known about how the technology may be used to skirt state suppression. After falling out with Pakistan's military leaders, Khan was ousted last year and is now the country's leader. He led an unprecedented campaign of defiance, accusing top brass of conspiring with the US to oust him and saying senior officers plotted an assassination attempt that left him wounded. Pakistan will have elections on February 8, the election commission confirmed on Friday. Khan was replaced as leader of the party while he was behind bars.

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