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The good and bad of AI voice generation in sports, entertainment, elections

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People can expect legendary performances at the 2024 Olympics — and not just from the athletes. Play-by-play announcer Al Michaels, who has helped voice nearly a dozen Super Bowls, is contributing a clone of his voice to assist with NBC’s coverage.

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NBC is the latest entity to introduce audience to AI voice technology, and many are skeptical about it. Michaels himself said the proposal was “a little bit frightening,” but changed his tune when he heard his copy “speak.”

The network said there will be a team of human editors who will review any AI content before it is released.

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But what happens when it’s a musician getting copied without their permission? Artificial intelligence has been used to bring back the vocals of dead artists.

Singer Sheryl Crow recently spoke out about this practice, criticizing Drake for using AI to recreate the voices of Kendrick Lamar and late rapper Tupac in his song “Taylor Made” released in April. The diss track was ultimately pulled after Tupac’s estate threatened to sue.

The debate continues elsewhere in the entertainment industry. Major record companies are now suing music generation companies, accusing them of using copyrighted sounds and songs to train their AI services.

The controversy over AI has also spread into politics, where experts warn that voice generation could have a major impact on the 2024 presidential election. In January, many voters in New Hampshire received a robocall featuring the fake voice of Joe Biden telling them not to vote in the state’s primary.

There are tools people can use to help make sense of the different voices, however, much like the technology, they are still evolving.

The best bet may be to just listen closely. Audio recordings created by a live person tend to sound more natural and varied, compared to AI-generated voices that are more likely to be very clear.

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[KARAH RUCKER]

WE CAN EXPECT LEGENDARY PERFORMANCES AT THIS YEAR’S OLYMPIC GAMES.

AND NOT JUST FROM THE ATHLETES. 

PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER AL MICHAELS – WHO HAS LENT HIS VOCALS TO NEARLY A DOZEN SUPER BOWLS – WILL BE CONTRIBUTING TO NBC’S COVERAGE.

OR AT LEAST – A CLONE OF HIS VOICE WILL. 

NBC IS JUST THE LATEST ENTITY TO INTRODUCE AUDIENCES TO AI VOICE TECHNOLOGY. 

AND IF YOU’RE SKEPTICAL ABOUT IT – JOIN THE CLUB.

MICHAELS HIMSELF HAS SAID THE PROPOSAL WAS ‘A LITTLE BIT FRIGHTENING’ BUT CHANGED HIS TUNE WHEN HE HEARD HIS COPY SPEAK. 

THE NETWORK, FOR IT’S PART, SAYS THERE WILL BE A TEAM OF HUMAN EDITORS WHO WILL REVIEW ANY AI CONTENT BEFORE ITS RELEASED.

BUT WHAT ABOUT WHEN IT’S A MUSICIAN GETTING COPIED – AND THEY’RE NOT EVEN BEING ASKED BEFORE IT HAPPENS?

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE HAS BEEN USED TO BRING BACK THE VOCALS OF DEAD ARTISTS – LIKE TUPAC. 

SHERYL CROW RECENTLY SPOKE OUT ABOUT THIS PRACTICE – SLAMMING DRAKE FOR USING AI TO RECREATE THE VOICES OF THE LATE RAPPER AS WELL AS KENDRICK LAMAR FOR A SONG IN APRIL.

IT WAS ULTIMATELY PULLED AFTER TUPAC’S ESTATE THREATENED TO SUE. 

THE DEBATE RAGES ON – MAJOR RECORD COMPANIES ARE NOW SUING MUSIC GENERATION COMPANIES. ACCUSING THEM OF USING COPYRIGHTED SOUNDS AND SONGS TO TRAIN THEIR AI SERVICES. 

IT’S CLEAR THE TECH HAS THE POTENTIAL TO SHAKE UP THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY.

AND MANY EXPERTS WARN – A-I VOICE GENERATION – COULD ALSO HAVE A MAJOR IMPACT ON THE UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

[NAT OF JOE BIDEN ROBO-CALL]

[KARAH RUCKER]

THERE ARE TOOLS YOU CAN USE TO HELP MAKE SENSE OF THE NOISE. HOWEVER, MUCH LIKE THE TECH – THEY ARE STILL EVOLVING. 

SO YOUR BEST BET – MAY JUST BE LISTENING CLOSELY.

AUDIO RECORDINGS CREATED BY A LIVE PERSON TEND TO SOUND MORE NATURAL AND VARIED – COMPARED TO AI-GENERATED VOICES THAT ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE VERY CLEAR.