Behind the A.I. Robocall That Impersonated Biden: A Democratic Consultant and a Magician

A Democratic political consultant confirmed that he was behind robocalls last month that used an artificial-intelligence impersonation of President Biden to urge Democrats not to vote in the New Hampshire primary.

But the consultant, Steven Kramer, and the man he hired to produce the A.I. audio, an itinerant magician and technology and marketing consultant named Paul Carpenter, have different takes on how exactly the call came together.

Now Mr. Kramer may face criminal charges, civil lawsuits or both. He said he had received a subpoena from the Federal Communications Commission and would comply. But he declined to provide a copy, and the F.C.C. would not confirm it. NBC News was first to report the involvement of Mr. Kramer and Mr. Carpenter.

Mr. Kramer, whose company is based in Alabama, described his motives loftily, saying he had wanted to draw attention to the potential abuse of artificial intelligence in campaigns.

“If I hadn’t done this, no one would have done anything,” he said, adding that he had chosen the New Hampshire Democratic primary because it wasn’t competitive and so his calls wouldn’t affect the outcome. The F.C.C. announced shortly after the primary that it would apply existing restrictions on calls using “artificial or prerecorded voices” to voices generated by A.I.

But Mr. Carpenter said Mr. Kramer had told him he wanted the audio in order to assess the technology as a potential service for future clients, after a Thanksgiving party where Mr. Carpenter had made an A.I. impersonation of Senator Lindsey Graham “saying something vulgar” as a joke. The two men were introduced through a mutual acquaintance last year, Mr. Carpenter said.

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