MD athletic director used AI to frame principal with racist remarks

A Maryland athletic director has been accused of using AI to impersonate a principal on an audio recording making racist comments, according to authorities last week.

Dazhon Darien, a former teacher and athletic director at Pikesville High School used AI to make a fake audio clip of the Pikesville principal using racist rhetoric in regards to Darien’s poor work performance and not having his contract renewed, according to Baltimore County police.

aiAuthorities said it was a first-of-its-kind case and warned the public about the increasing power that comes with AI technology.

A recent report from The Daily Record detailed Darien’s actions and how law enforcement figured out the audio clip was generated by AI.

Below is an excerpt from the The Daily Record story.

Concerns included allegations that Darien paid his roommate $1,900 in school funds under the false pretense of coaching the girls’ soccer team, police said.

Darien forged an audio clip in which it sounded as if the principal was frustrated with Black students and their test-taking abilities, police wrote in charging documents. They said the recording also purported to capture the principal disparaging Jewish individuals and two teachers.

The audio clip quickly spread on social media and had “profound repercussions,” the court documents stated, with the principal being placed on leave. The recording put the principal and his family at “significant risk,” while police officers provided security at his house, according to authorities.

The recording also triggered a wave of hate-filled messages on social media and an inundation of phone calls to the school, police said. Activities were disrupted for a time, and some staff felt unsafe.

“Teachers have expressed fears that recording devices could have been planted in various places in the school,” the charging documents stated.

Darien, 31, faces charges that include theft, disrupting school activities, stalking and retaliating against a witness, according to court documents.

Scott Shellenberger, the Baltimore County state’s attorney, said the case appears to be one of the first of its kind nationwide involving artificial intelligence that his office was able to find. He said Maryland’s Legislature may need to update state laws to catch up with the nefarious possibilities of the new technology.

For example, the charge of disrupting school activities “only carries a 6-month sentence,” Shellenberger said.

“But we also need to take a broader look at how this technology can be used and abused to harm other people,” the prosecutor said.

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Baltimore County detectives had asked experts to analyze the recording made by Darien, according to the charges against him.

A professor from the University of Colorado-Denver told police that it “contained traces of AI-generated content with human editing after the fact, which added background noises for realism,” court records stated.

To read the full story from The Daily Record, click here.