April O'Neil / news@WHMI.com

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has joined a coalition of 26 attorneys general in sending a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) emphasizing the potential harm in the use of artificial intelligence (A.I.) by telemarketers and asking the federal government to strongly restrict such usage.

In November, the FCC posted a Notice of Inquiry requesting input on the implications and usage of A.I. technology in consumer communications and how the technology fits under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Specifically, the FCC inquired about the potential ability of A.I. technologies to act as the functional equivalent of a real person.

Pursuant to the TCPA, robocalls are those calls made using an artificial or prerecorded voice. Such calls are generally prohibited unless the calling party obtains the prior express written consent of the consumer.

AG Nessel joined the comment letter to the FCC, saying marketers wanting to use A.I. to impersonate a human voice should be required to follow the TCPA’s rules and regulations with respect to “artificial voices,” including obtaining the prior express written consent from consumer targets.

“I have worked consistently to unburden consumers from intrusive and incessant robocalls,” Nessel said. “Michigan has helped lead a national effort to reduce the number of unwanted automated calls, in our state and nationally. Properly regulating calls that replicate a human voice to make telemarketing robocalls will help us continue this fight.

"I wholeheartedly support my colleagues in asking the Federal Communications Commission to restrict marketers’ ability to circumvent the intent of the TCPA with A.I. robocalls.”

AG Nessel joined Pennsylvania in the comment along with the Attorneys General for Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington.

A copy of the comment letter can be found at the provided link.