Artificial Intelligence has been used for anything from content creation to crime prediction. In a new utilisation, an AI voice content is using the technology to remove accents from foreign call centre workers.
Accents killed with AI voice tools
Created by Silicon Valley startup company Sanas, the AI tool aims to change foreign call centre voices to western voices. Reported by The Guardian, the tool is set to strip away accents entirely.
Via the report, foreign accents — such as Indian or Filipino — are a hurdle for call centre workers. In these centres, workers are trained to try and approximate western mannerisms and inflections to sound more American.
With Sanas, this training is circumvented entirely. The Guardian claims that the technology is effective. An example saw an Indian man speaking with his natural accent; after the software was activated, he spoke with a Brooklyn accent.
Sanas is already being used in 1,000 call centres in the Philippines and India. Workers are expected to turn the software on and off when they feel comfortable. However, if the software proves overwhelmingly effective, managers will likely enforce its use.
Problematic or not?
Of course, the use of artificial intelligence being used to strip a person of their accent is problematic, especially when it becomes enforced. However, Sanas’ creator made the technology in order to fight discrimination.
Company co-founder Sharath Keshava Narayana explained that he used to work in a call centre where he faced discrimination because of his accent. After having the idea back in 2003, he was finally able to turn it into real software with AI.
While the software does help humans overcome hate from racist recipients, it’s also ethically unsettling. Call centre workers are being stripped of their identity in order to sell products or assist with customer complaints.
In call centres, foreign workers already have to give themselves fake English names to appease westerners. Reminding them of their accents feels like a huge step too far.