A fellow student at Berkeley Haas asked me whether I would use an AI voice replication technology for podcasting or other forms of content creation. My initial thought was why not but then I questioned why and when would I want technology to speak on my behalf?
From a content creator and efficiency perspective, it might sound appealing. Concurrently, from a content creator perspective, it could sound appalling because there’s an initial and inherent issue with content authenticity. Authenticity is a huge factor content creators have to think about with their audiences these days.
In short, it was difficult to answer her question as to whether or not I’d use the technology. I could argue that what I write for this text-to-speech technology can be just as authentic as what I say. It will just sound more perfected and less spontaneous. However, will audiences even appreciate or care for spontaneity 10 years from now? I don’t know. I can only observe how Photoshop’d photos of people have come in and out of favor for audiences. For a while it was ok but now more and more people want to see what’s “real.” Whatever that means. Another question I ask is, “Does this create more benefits than risks for the content creator?” I don’t know. If I were to guess, I would suspect content creators feeling like they are relinquishing control of one form of their identity.
The implications of this technology could be scary but I also accept technological advancement as unavoidable (e.g. CRISPR). Upon further thought, in the near-term I don’t think I would use this technology for podcasts because podcasts are interviews; there is no reason to artificially generate my voice. I could see this technology being used by video bloggers or other forms of content where voiceovers are common. However, I don’t know why someone would pay money for such a service when they could just use their own voice. On second thought, I could think of a scenario where a popular content creator delegates content creation to others. However, would they want to give their voice to the control of someone else?
The thing about our voices is that it is unique to us. As I mentioned it is currently part of our identity. Maybe in the future, our identity will be unique in new ways. For now, I don’t know how I feel about giving someone effective control of my voice. It sounds like the perfect technology for a dystopian novel.
However, with all technology it is neither inherently good or bad. It is all a matter of perspective (a gun can take a life and/or save a life). For all the malicious ways people can employ this technology, I can also see how this technology can help handicapped people who have lost their voice or are mute.
What are your thoughts?