The Beaverton City Council says the meeting was hijacked by artificial intelligence bots spewing hate speech

Editor’s Note: Some of the comments in the video may be disturbing to hear. Viewer discretion is advised.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A Beaverton City Council meeting earlier this month was infiltrated by bots believed to be artificial intelligence, spewing hate speech and profanity, leaving council members and the audience stunned.

Many of the online testimonials began that way, addressing issues raised by in-person testimony or other concerns, before quickly devolving into racial slurs and hate speech.

A caller made subsequent comments at the city council meeting, ranging from references to the Holocaust to the use of racial slurs, profanity and hate speech.

After the in-person testimony, the council began hearing from everyone who signed up to testify online at the Oct. 3 hearing, many of whom began with the same introduction: “Hello, can you hear me?” Just escalate quickly for each speaker.

“At first, I just kind of felt, ‘Oh, this is weird, we have a lot of comments online that almost fit what was in the room,'” said Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beatty, and as soon as they started naming names, the first Out of the gate the speaker started naming members of the Jewish community and leadership, I knew right away where he was going. I was looking at the rest of the names trying to calculate if this was a one off or if everyone in the Zoom line was going to have the same feelings. , so as soon as naming names turned into something horrible, I just hung up. Shut them down.”

Mayor Beatty says he made an executive decision to cut off the speakers, especially because there were children in the audience.

What you can’t see from this clip is that we had young people in the audience who were there to receive the walkout announcement that I was issuing, and there were kids from my daughter’s school in the audience. Bitty said. “I made a really serious decision, not only as mayor but as a mother, because I looked out into the audience and I heard people gasp and I saw young kids looking at me and expecting me to do something.”

Beatty said they don’t know who was responsible or why the city of Beaverton was targeted, but during the hearing hinted at the belief that the callers were AI-generated bots.

“I’ve talked to a lot of mayors around the country to find out if this is isolated to us. Is it happening in other cities? It’s happening in other cities, and mostly in cities with women mayors. , is happening. A lot of what’s happening around the country has to do with women mayors who identify as Jewish, and so I don’t know exactly why this city was in the mix. My only guess is that we’re incredibly progressive.” “We’ve had to spend most of our energy with our city attorney and other groups to figure out what we’re going to do if this happens in the future. I mean, of course, my heart is that the mayor hopes that “It wasn’t members of the community who were doing this. My hope is that someone is in the middle of the country underground and just targeting random towns. But I can say that we really don’t know exactly who it was or why it started.”

The mayor says that right now, the law is clear about the First Amendment allowing public speech and testimony, but they also don’t want to abandon the virtual option after seeing increased community engagement with the option.

“It’s really expanded public participation, and so as mayor I’m not going to let bad actors convince us to do something different,” Beatty said.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday, October 17. For now, virtual public comment will be allowed, but they are also exploring legal options to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

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