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Would you like a different voice? No problem, use AI

I recognised your voice! Actually, no more. Image credit: Modulate

I had the fortune through my professional life to follow the progress in voice syntheses. Forty years ago hearing a computer speaking was something amazing and you couldn’t have any doubt that was a synthetic voice. In forty years that voice has progressed so much that today it ay trick us into believing it is a real human voice, not a computer. It can’t get any better, can it?

As a matter of fact it turns out that voice syntheses can progress even more, now it becomes possible asking a computer to talk using a certain tone of voice and a way of speaking to mimic any desired voice/person.

This is what Modulate can do. You speak with your voice and Modulate reshape it to make it sound anyway you like. You are a guy and would like to morph your voice into one of a girl? Presto, done.  Would you like your voice to be transformed into the one of last US president, Mr. Obama? No, problem. You can try it out on their website.

If you pay attention to their website you’ll see that the root of their URL is .ai. That’s no coincidence.  They use Artificial Intelligence to reshape your voice, keeping a human timbre. And the results are impressive.

As they are ready to point out on their website, having the possibility to morph your voice into someone else’s may be great fun, it may even become a business tools when you want to use your voice over an ads, changing it in different ads, or even using your voice or different characters. On the other hand, this possibility opens the door to malicious usage, pretending to be someone else, to give strength, as an example, to a fake news.

Modulate is inserting a watermarking signature in their morphed voices so that it is possible to check if it is a real voice or an artificial one. Clearly, the problem is that just a few (suspicious) people will check the signature.

As technology evolves we are facing machines, not just humans, and it gets more and more difficult to tell one from the other.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. He's currently the Chair of the Symbiotic Autonomous Systems Initiative of IEEE-FDC. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and up to September 2018 he was the Head of the EIT Digital Industrial Doctoral School. Previously, up to December 2011, he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books. He writes a daily blog,  http://sites.ieee.org/futuredirections/category/blog/, with commentary on innovation in various technology and market areas.

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