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Blue Bloods Season 14 Episode 7 Uses AI The Right Way - But It's Still Scary

Contains spoilers for "Blue Bloods" Season 14, Episode 7 — "On the Ropes"

It seems that "Blue Bloods" has joined the plethora of procedurals that have used AI as a plot device, but the show manages to mill realistic and harrowing consequences from the topic.

While Jamie Reagan (Will Estes) is transporting a witness, Connor Pruitt (Jimmy Smagula), they are ambushed, with him and his team barely coming out of the conflict alive. When he heads back to the station and fills in Captain Paula McNichols (Stephanie Kurtzuba) about the incident, he learns she received a phone call from him claiming he forgot his schedule in an attempt to delay the transport. It turns out that Jamie didn't make that call — his voice was impersonated via AI technology by the very criminals hoping to put his van and witness in the right place at the wrong time. Now Jamie has to convince the already nervous Pruitt to turn on his guys and give Jamie some names in the hope of reducing his sentence. On the line are hundreds of innocent victims of these scammers — and Jamie's own family, whose information lies in their hands.

The dilemma Jamie faces may not provide his best moment as a detective, but it has become part of a trend in procedurals as they try to portray the ever-shifting crime landscape surrounding us all. "NCIS" alone has brought two AI-related plots to life over the past couple of seasons, though their preoccupation with bringing the dead back to life with the technology ought to stop. However, "Blue Bloods" keeps the problem realistic to what actual victims have experienced and reflects the real-life techno crimes that continue to plague the country at large.

The kind of scam Jamie puts the kibosh on in this episode is all too real

What Jamie Reagan goes through in "On the Ropes" is a microcosm of what real people have been forced to deal with thanks to voice impersonation scams. In March, The New Yorker reported that there's a brand-new digital scam floating about in which callers impersonate kidnappers, even cloaking their phone number to resemble that of a family member or friend. Using AI voice technology, a loved one's voice is simulated. Sometimes, they have been kidnapped, and sometimes, they have had a medical emergency or been in an accident. 

Typically, the "kidnappers" demand fairly small amounts of money or personal information like credit card numbers and checking account information in trade for the "release" of the loved one. Naturally, the person in question is safe, and the scammers can use the information to drain accounts, run up credit card bills, and generally become nuisances to their targets. The official website of New York City notes that some scammers might even use AI to generate pictures of public figures or of a target's loved ones to add further credibility to the scam.

While Jamie gets justice by the end of the episode, hundreds of average Americans likely aren't as lucky. To read more about the weekly adventures (or misadventures, in many cases) of the Reagan family, be sure to check out the untold truth of "Blue Bloods."