Last week, two gun control advocacy groups, Change the Ref and March For Our Lives, launched a campaign using the AI-generated voices of young people killed by people wielding guns to try to change gun laws in the United States, according to CNN.

The Shotline

As part of the campaign, the groups created a website called The Shotline, which features the stories and voices of six victims of gun violence, per The Hill. The voices were created by AI using audio supplied by the victims’ parents, per CNN.

On The Shotline website, people can listen to messages generated using the AI-created voices. They can also enter their zip code, select a local representative and send the generated message in a phone call directly to that representative.

The voices

One of the voices used in the campaign is that of Joaquin Oliver. Oliver was 17, and a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He was one of 17 killed when a man walked into his school and opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle, according to NBC News.

In Oliver’s generated message, he says, “Six years ago, I was a senior at Parkland. Many students and teachers were murdered on Valentine’s Day that year by a person using an AR-15 assault rifle. It’s been six years, and you’ve done nothing. Not a thing to stop all the shootings that have continued to happen since.

“The thing is, I died that day in Parkland,” Oliver’s voice continues. “My body was destroyed by a weapon of war. I’m back today because my parents used AI to recreate my voice to call you. Other victims like me will be calling too, again and again, to demand action. How many calls will it take for you to care? How many dead voices will you hear before you finally listen?”

The other five voices generated and used on The Shotline are of:

  • Uzi Garcia, 10, who was shot and killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in 2022.
  • Ethan Song, 15, who died in 2018 in an accidental shooting.
  • Akilah Dasilva, 23, who was killed in mass shooting in Tennessee in 2018.
  • Mike Baughan, 30, of Maryland, who died by suicide in 2014.
  • Jaycee Webster, 20, who was shot and killed at his Maryland home in 2017.

And per CNN, more than two dozen parents have given audio of their children’s voices for future use.

The purpose

According to CBS News, Oliver’s parents and founders of Change the Ref, Manuel and Patricia Oliver, said the purpose of the campaign is based on the premise that if a person wants laws changed, the first step they should take is to call their elected representatives.

But, per CNN, Oliver’s parents say they have tried to make change for a long time with little result.

“My wife and I have been trying to use our voices for the last six years. Nonstop,” said Manuel Oliver. “We have tried almost every single way to approach gun violence in a way that people will pay attention. We haven’t been very successful. ... So we decided, you know what? Let’s bring the voices of our loved ones. Let’s bring the voice of Joaquin.”

Patricia Oliver said she thinks the voices of the victims, including her son, could have a bigger impact.

“We need to keep up the pressure. Whatever it takes,” she said, per CBS News.

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