Does AI Voice Pose a Threat to the Future?

April 23, 2023

By Garrett McGuirt

(Credit: ArtemisDiana/Shutterstock)

Audio Transcription:

AI technology has been an amazing feat over the last few years. Here is a prominent example:

(Credit: Sky News Australia)

One initially might think that that was United States President, Joe Biden, giving one of his speeches. But that’s where they would be wrong. That statement from the president was nothing more than an AI deepfake. 

Every day it seems as though the world has made yet another remarkable technological advancement or breakthrough. 

The AI phenomenon has quickly risen to prominence throughout the last few years. And in 2023, it seems more prevalent than ever. It has been quite the feat to see people be able to select any prominent figure, and generate speech, and now even songs, in that person’s exact voice. 

There are a few debates online as to when AI voice truly began. One could argue that AI voice recognition began back in the early 1900’s with a voice activated toy called, “Radio Rex,” that would come to you when its name was called.

Others would say it truly began in 1952 when Bell Labs created “Audrey,” a machine that could acknowledge numbers from 1 to 9. Or it could be said that IBM truly pioneered AI in 1961 with “Shoebox.” Shoebox was a voice recognition technology that was able to recognize up to 16 words and 9 numbers, respectively.

Whichever you may think is the first true voice recognition technology, it is hard to imagine that the creators of these technologies could have ever foreseen what would become of voice recognition. 

Take VoxBox for example, a completely free to use AI voice generator. Let’s say I wanted to have a special message from former President Donald Trump, but I don’t have the connections or resources to do so. All I have to do is use VoxBox to relay this message. Listen to this voice generation I made for Free on VoxBox. 

And there you have it, former President Donald Trump shouting me out, free of charge. This may seem like a fun and harmless thing to do. On a smaller scope, yes. But when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture here, things can become scary.

Nearly anyone in the world can have access to this technology for no cost whatsoever. Think about that for a moment. Anyone in the world can make a world leader say whatever they want.

What can this mean for national and even global relations? I have seen it many times, especially on Twitter, these AI generated speeches and videos that will show the current President, Joe Biden, saying something off color that can shine a negative light on him and even the country.

In an era where so much information is floating on the internet, it is hard to fact check it all. And even if things are able to be fact checked, the general public hardly ever does.

An issue that partners with this is that people’s attention spans have dwindled so much in this current climate of the internet that people will often see something once, true or not, and form their opinions and move on not knowing whether or not something they have just seen holds any truth at all. 

So that poses the question. What threat does AI voice generation pose for the future?

Certainly there are speculations that can be made when it comes to the overall safeness of AI. As for the Biden administration it currently remains unknown of their full stance on the matter at hand. “It remains to be seen. Could be.”

That is what President Biden said earlier this month when he sat down with his science and tech advisers to discuss what this AI could mean for the future. 

While Biden didn’t outright dismiss AI technology, he did state his concerns of its impact. Biden said to the group “AI can help deal with some very difficult challenges like disease and climate change, but it also has to address the potential risks to our society, to our economy, to our national security.” 

When looking into AI as a whole there are positives that come out of it. AI technology provides many affordances for productivity. One of the most glaring benefits is the reduction of human error.

Because AI is a constant stream of data and information, it allows for more efficient and accurate work that would otherwise take much longer for the average person.

Another benefit of AI is its automation factor. AI is capable of always running 24/7, that means a constant streamline of information and work that is able to be done. This is one of the reasons why some jobs are being replaced by Artificial Intelligence.

Another positive aspect of AI falls in line with what we are talking about today. The ability to replicate and create unique art, music, and voice patterns that seem as if they were done by humans, or it is the actual human themselves. The positive here is that interesting content can be created seamlessly with little to no difference from its real life counterpart. 

That seamlessness is good when done with the right intentions. Some might say AI doesn’t need to be regulated or restricted when its powers reach far and wide. Even so, it can quickly turn into something that is far more worrisome. 

So what can be done to regulate AI to make sure AI generated work is done morally and ethically right?

For starters there should be a basic set of guidelines and rules when using Artificial Intelligence. With anyone having the ability to access this technology, it needs to have a code of ethics to ensure that AI is used productively and safely.

When it comes to the social media side of AI, that is the sharing of AI content, more must be done to flag content as Artificially generated. On twitter anyone has the power to upload clips at their leisure. Social media companies should look to implement a content management system that can detect content as being AI generated.

This system could be similar to YouTube’s copyright check during the process of uploading a video. Before a video can even be uploaded, YouTube thoroughly scans the file to detect any copyrighted audio that is not fair use. This could be done with photos and videos uploaded to social media to make certain that content is not altered.

It is worth nothing that twitter does have a fact checking policy in place, but this only appears under the tweet itself. What I am proposing here is a system that would place a notice on the post before it is viewed so those who see it are aware before watching that it is in fact AI. 

AI can be comedic and lighthearted when using it to mimic politicians, for example, but with the political landscape on the internet so hot right now, it is important that people know what is real and what is not.

This is most important for those who aren’t as media literate. The older generation might not be aware of this technology, and with many in that generation being so passionate about politics, they need to be aware that they might be seeing something that could potentially influence their opinions. 

Overall, AI certainly has benefits that can steer the world in a more efficient direction. But we as a world need to come together to make sure that it is being used right.

If AI can be used safely and securely, it can absolutely help the world. When it comes to world leaders in particular having their speech and likeness mimicked by AI, that’s where a majority of focus should lie. Not everyone is aware of this AI technology, so it needs to be apparent that the use of AI is involved in situations such as that.

This AI technology is so new that I’m not sure if anyone truly knows where it will go. But it is something that I’m sure everyone will be paying attention to. What do you think about AI technology? Where do you think it is headed? Will it be possible to regulate it?


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