The recent explosion of AI technology like Chat GPT that can produce content like writing and voiceovers in what was once the domain of the fleshy-bodied human has us all pondering what Skynet is coming for next. But, faster than we expected, it seems like companies are already using AI to replace their human voice actors to save a penny.
This is according to a report from Motherboard, who investigated the issue and spoke to the affected actors. One of the main culprits in question is ElevenLabs, who market their AI software as being able to "Generate top-quality spoken audio in any voice and style with the most advanced and multipurpose AI speech tool out there. Our deep learning model renders human intonation and inflections with unprecedented fidelity and adjusts delivery based on context."
These services usually work by letting someone record their voice reading out a script. After this, you can type out anything you want and an AI-generated version of the voice that is modulated and synthesised to then replicate its original host reading out whatever you've typed in.
See where this is going?
Apex Legends' Loba voice actor, Fryda Wolff, thinks this is particularly troubling. "Game developers, animation studios, and perhaps even commercial clients could get away with squeezing more performances out of me through feeding my voice to AI, using these generated performances, and then never compensating me for use of my ‘likeness’, never mind informing my agency that this was done.”
In fact, it's already very common to find acting contracts that stipulate that the company can synthesize the likeness of the actor in question, thereby letting AI create more voice lines for a grand total of, um, nothing. That's according to Tim Friedlander, the president and founder of the National Association of Voice Actors. Some of these are also deliberately obfuscated to hide their real intentions from the actor.
ElevenLabs makes it no secret that they want their AI to be used in gaming and movies, as well as other enterprises like streaming. And, although we've focused on ElevenLabs here, there are plenty of other companies jumping on the AI train. This is obviously to the detriment of the acting industry as a whole, but it is set to hit other industries like writing and publishing too.
The trend of using AI to replace human creators is increasing at an exceptional rate, throwing ethics to one side and devaluing the work of talented individuals by fostering an gig-economy environment where it's nothing but a race to the bottom.
But, who knows? Perhaps it's worse than you thought and you're reading an article generated by an AI. Food for thought.