Gym teacher arrested for AI clone of principal’s voice

April 26, 2024
  • A Baltimore high school athletic director was arrested after allegedly cloning the principal’s voice
  • The racist audio recording led to the principal losing his job before it was confirmed as an AI fake
  • The incident illustrates how easily dangerous AI fakes can be made and how hard they are to detect

A Baltimore high school athletic director was arrested on Thursday after police said he had allegedly used AI to create a fake audio clip of the school’s principal.

In January, we reported on the audio clip that purported to be a recording of Pikesville High principal Eric Eiswert making racist and antisemitic comments about staff and students.

At the time, Eiswert denied the authenticity of the audio, and claims were made that the clip was an AI fake.

The widely shared audio clip led to Eiswert losing his job temporarily while the authenticity of the audio was investigated. The backlash from teachers, students, and others in the community who believed the clip was genuine upended Eiswert’s life.

If you listen to the audio clip it’s easy to understand why people believed it was genuine.


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Experts have now concluded that the audio was an AI fake based on the audio’s flat tone, lack of consistent breathing sounds or pauses, and unusually clean background sounds.

It is alleged that Dazhon Darien, Pikesville High’s former athletic director, made the AI fake in retaliation for Eiswert launching an investigation into his misuse of school funds.

Dazhon Darien has been arrested and charged with disrupting school operations, theft, retaliating against a witness, and stalking. The charge sheet noted that Darien had used the school’s computers “to access OpenAI tools and Microsoft Bing Chat services.”

Absent from the list of charges was something that may soon be a crime: using AI to fake someone’s voice.

Bills like the No Fakes Act and the No AI Fraud Act have been filed in the US Congress but are yet to be passed. So when Darien used AI to create a non-consensual fake audio clip of Eiswert’s voice it technically wasn’t a crime.

The fact that it took weeks for an expert to eventually confirm that the audio clip was a fake highlights just how unprepared society and authorities are to handle new issues that generative AI presents.

The ease with which these fakes can be generated compounds the problem. If a gym teacher can put together a passable fake then imagine what more technically competent bad actors could achieve.

In the absence of an easy way to identify fake audio and video, our best defense may be to assume things are fake until they’re confirmed as real.

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Eugene van der Watt

Eugene comes from an electronic engineering background and loves all things tech. When he takes a break from consuming AI news you'll find him at the snooker table.


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