OpenAI Can Re-Create Human Voices—but Won’t Release the Tech Yet


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

Alongside these traces, OpenAI this week introduced Voice Engine, a text-to-speech AI mannequin for creating artificial voices primarily based 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 know-how. 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 step with our strategy to AI security and our voluntary commitments, we’re selecting to preview however not extensively launch this know-how at the moment,” 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 on the whole shouldn’t be notably new—there have been several AI voice synthesis models since 2022, and the tech is energetic within the open supply neighborhood with packages like OpenVoice and XTTSv2. However the concept that OpenAI is inching towards letting anybody use its 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 know-how embrace offering studying help via natural-sounding voices, enabling world attain for creators by translating content material whereas preserving native accents, supporting non-verbal people with personalised speech choices, and helping sufferers in recovering their very own voice after speech-impairing circumstances.

However 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 power to clone voices has already brought about bother in society via phone scams the place somebody imitates a cherished 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 know-how can be utilized to interrupt into financial institution accounts that use voice authentication (similar to Chase’s Voice ID), which prompted US senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the chair 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.

OpenAI acknowledges that the tech may trigger bother if broadly launched, so it is initially making an attempt to work round these points with a algorithm. It has been testing the know-how with a set of choose associate firms since final yr. For instance, video synthesis firm HeyGen has been utilizing the mannequin to translate a speaker’s voice into different languages whereas conserving the identical vocal sound.

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