AI Voice Cloning Startups Enter the Political Arena

With concerns about disinformation rising in the context of the 2024 US elections, AI voice cloning startups are unafraid to venture into the political game. One such company is Instreamatic, an AI audio/video ad platform based in Boca Raton, Florida. Instreamatic, which raised a $6.1 million Series A funding round in 2021, is now expanding its capabilities into the unpredictable world of political advertising.

Instreamatic’s solution allows candidate campaigns to create highly-targeted AI-driven contextual video and audio ads. Unlike traditional talking head videos, these ads leverage voiceovers that can adapt to changing events or locations. For instance, Instreamatic showcased a video campaign demo featuring the replication of Barack Obama’s voice, enabling candidates to modify political ads without the need to enter a recording studio.

Instreamatic has been offering its generative voice AI product to brands and agencies since March 2021. The platform boasts the ability to automatically generate unlimited ad versions from a single completed ad, taking into account factors such as the audience’s location, the time of day, the app or platform where they receive the ad, or even the nearest store. This adaptive approach to advertising opens up new possibilities for campaign targeting and personalization.

However, the use of AI in political campaigns raises concerns regarding disinformation. Already, there have been instances of AI-generated content in political campaign efforts. For example, Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign utilized AI-generated images and audio of Donald Trump. As a result, many experts believe that the 2024 US elections will be plagued by disinformation, with generative AI tools like chatbots and deepfakes exacerbating the problem.

Instreamatic’s CEO and co-founder, Stas Tushinskiy, claims that the company has implemented guardrails to prevent the misuse of its product for election disinformation. Tushinskiy explains that all clients engaging in political campaigns must confirm that they have the necessary permission to use any voices associated with their ads. Furthermore, Instreamatic maintains strict control over the political advertising offering, ensuring that access is granted only to authorized parties. By taking these precautions, Instreamatic aims to avoid unintended misuse of its platform for disinformation purposes.

Tushinskiy assures, “We don’t want to get caught in the middle of something we didn’t intend the platform to be used for.” He emphasizes that any issues with political ads will be promptly addressed, stating that problematic ads will be deleted immediately, and, if required, a public safety statement will be issued.

Contrary to reinventing political ads, Instreamatic’s offering automates an existing, laborious manual process. The traditional process involves candidates or voice talents spending hours in a studio, followed by uploading and meticulous human error checks by others. This extensive and expensive process typically spans six to eight weeks. Instreamatic compresses the timeline drastically, reducing it to a matter of minutes.

Moreover, Tushinskiy highlights the collaborative nature of ad campaigns, which often require multiple iterations and revisions between the agency and the client. With voice cloning, contextual ads can mention specific travel destinations for an airline or cite local dealership locations for car brands. This approach increases the effectiveness of ad spend by utilizing ads tailored to the targeted audience, as contextual ads consistently outperform generic ones.

Despite the benefits of AI-generated political ads, experts caution that this new landscape poses significant risks. Currently, there are no federal regulations governing the use of AI-generated content, including ads, in political campaigns. The lack of clear guidelines opens the door to potential manipulation and disinformation, allowing malicious actors to exploit AI technology for their own political interests.

Instreamatic’s foray into political advertising exemplifies the growing intersection between AI technology and the electoral process. While the company asserts safeguards against misuse, the overall ramifications of AI-generated political ads remain unknown. As the 2024 US elections approach, the need for regulation and oversight becomes increasingly evident to uphold the integrity of the democratic process and ensure transparency in political campaigns.

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