OpenAI holds back wide release of voice-cloning tech due to misuse concerns


Voice synthesis has come a good distance since 1978’s Speak & Spell toy, which as soon as wowed folks with its state-of-the-art capacity to learn phrases aloud utilizing an digital voice. Now, utilizing deep-learning AI fashions, software program can create not solely realistic-sounding voices, but additionally convincingly imitate current voices utilizing small samples of audio.

Alongside these traces, OpenAI simply introduced Voice Engine, a text-to-speech AI mannequin for creating artificial voices based mostly on a 15-second section of recorded audio. It has supplied audio samples of the Voice Engine in motion on its website.

As soon as a voice is cloned, a person can enter textual content into the Voice Engine and get an AI-generated voice consequence. However OpenAI shouldn’t be able to extensively launch its expertise but. The corporate initially deliberate to launch a pilot program for builders to enroll in the Voice Engine API earlier this month. However after extra consideration about moral implications, the corporate determined to cut back its ambitions for now.

“In keeping with our strategy to AI security and our voluntary commitments, we’re selecting to preview however not extensively launch this expertise presently,” the corporate writes. “We hope this preview of Voice Engine each underscores its potential and likewise motivates the necessity to bolster societal resilience in opposition to the challenges introduced by ever extra convincing generative fashions.”

Voice cloning tech basically shouldn’t be significantly new—we have covered several AI voice synthesis fashions since 2022, and the tech is energetic within the open supply neighborhood with packages like OpenVoice and XTTSv2. However the concept OpenAI is inching towards letting anybody use their explicit model of voice tech is notable. And in some methods, the corporate’s reticence to launch it absolutely could be the larger story.

OpenAI says that advantages of its voice expertise embody offering studying help by way of natural-sounding voices, enabling world attain for creators by translating content material whereas preserving native accents, supporting non-verbal people with customized speech choices, and helping sufferers in recovering their very own voice after speech-impairing circumstances.

Nevertheless it additionally signifies that anybody with 15 seconds of somebody’s recorded voice may successfully clone it, and that has apparent implications for potential misuse. Even when OpenAI by no means extensively releases its Voice Engine, the flexibility to clone voices has already precipitated hassle in society by way of phone scams the place somebody imitates a beloved one’s voice and election campaign robocalls that includes cloned voices from politicians like Joe Biden.

Additionally, researchers and reporters have shown that voice-cloning expertise can be utilized to interrupt into financial institution accounts that use voice authentication (resembling Chase’s Voice ID), which prompted Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the chairman of the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and City Affairs, to ship a letter to the CEOs of several major banks in Could 2023 to inquire concerning the safety measures banks are taking to counteract AI-powered dangers.

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