- It's Serious Business for a Voiceover
AI is a very real threat to the livelihoods of voiceovers around the world. Is this worry justified? And what can we do to protect ourselves?
"HUMANS SHOULD BE WORRIED ABOUT THE THREAT POSED BY ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE"
Not long ago, a new client contacted me requesting me to record the voiceover for an explainer video for them.
With the deal negotiated, I was sent a copy of the video for my reference. It had an AI guide voice on it to help gauge the pace and tone required by the client for the project.
None of this is unusual.
Red flags went up however when I got into the session and listened to that guide voice.
It was unmistakably my friend's voice.
A fellow VO.
A very respected and brilliant VO.
Her stolen voice...
So how did this happen?
It's easy to do and more common than you might think.
Software companies have been developing AI voice generator software for a while now, with many boasting the ability to copy, or replicate a person's voice in as little as three seconds raw audio. That is ANY audio without accompanying music.
A voice could be 'ripped' from a single voicemail message. SCARY.
It may not be a water tight replica of a voice with just three seconds of original audio but now imagine the thousands of words of raw, cleaned audio that we provide to a client as an Audiobook Narrator or E-Learning voiceover!
What happened to my friend above is of course not an isolated case. Stephen Fry himself recently revealed that his voice was 'stolen' from the audiobook recordings of Harry Potter. If it can happen to my friend and to Stephen Fry, then why not me?
The AI Threat isn't just 'over there' anymore. For me, the AI threat has pretty quickly become a very real threat.
So what can we do to stop it from happening to us?
Not a huge amount at the moment sadly. The technology is being developed faster than the government can re-write the laws. However, I am a member of the Actor's Union Equity who continue to lobby the government about tightening the laws surrounding Copyright and AI development to protect Individuals and Small Business. As a union we are stronger in this fight.
And personally, for anyone who works with me in future please respect that from now, I will ask for a signed copy of my T's & C's and a signed AI Waiver form.
If someone is able to copy, synthesise, replicate or use my voice without paying for it, it could be used to voice political opinions that I don't support, endorse religious extremism, create social media content designed to harm children and vulnerable adults or even for use in pornographic material.
But in addition to all of that, if someone else has creative control over my voice, I am made redundant. All the hard work in building my business becomes useless.
If you're a lovely client who would like to collaborate and beat the robots together, contact me today at: firstname.lastname@example.org