The Big Picture
- Stephen Fry discovered that an AI-generated recording of his voice fooled listeners into thinking it was him reading the Harry Potter books, raising concerns about the future of voice actors.
- Fry’s agents were upset when they heard the AI-generated recording, highlighting the potential threat this technology poses to the job prospects of voice actors.
- Tom Hanks and industry professionals are discussing the legal ramifications of AI replicating actors’ appearances and voices, emphasizing the need to protect their intellectual property and address the lifelike quality of AI-generated performances.
In alarmingly prevalent and topical news, Stephen Fry has revealed that his agents were extremely upset when they discovered the striking resemblance between his own voice and an AI-generated recording that fooled listeners into thinking they were listening to an authentic audio of him reading the Harry Potter book series. The legendary British icon of stage and screen, renowned for not just lending his voice to the entire Potter audiobook franchise but as a comic performer and acclaimed author, demonstrated how this AI, utilising a “flexible artificial voice,” had the potential to threaten the job prospects of other voice actors, including himself.
“I said not one word of that — it was a machine,” Fry told Fortune. “Yes, it shocked me. They used my reading of the seven volumes of the ‘Harry Potter’ books, and from that dataset, an AI of my voice was created and it made that new narration. “What you heard was not the result of a mash-up. This is from a flexible artificial voice, where the words are modulated to fit the meaning of each sentence. It could therefore have me read anything from a call to storm Parliament to hard porn, all without my knowledge and without my permission. And this, what you just heard, was done without my knowledge.”
Fry added that, once he had heard about it, he sent the clip to his agents on either side of the Atlantic and admitted that they had “gone ballistic” when they heard it for the first time, before adding: “Tech is not a noun, it is a verb, it is always moving. What we have now is not what will be. When it comes to artificial intelligence models, what we have now will advance at a faster rate than any technology we have ever seen. One thing we can all agree on: It’s a fucking weird time to be alive.”
The Hot Topic of Artificial Intelligence
The involvement of artificial intelligence in Hollywood, specifically the presence of ChatGPT in writers’ rooms and AI replicating the appearances of actors, is presently under discussion during the ongoing strikes within both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA. Legendary actor Tom Hanks was recently reported as saying that the replication of likeness was currently a hot topic within the industry.
“I can tell you that there [are] discussions going on in all of the guilds, all of the agencies, and all of the legal firms in order to come up with the legal ramifications of my face and my voice — and everybody else’s — being our intellectual property,” Hanks said on the Adam Buxton Podcast.
“I could be hit by a bus tomorrow and that’s it, but my performances can go on and on and on. Outside of the understanding that it’s been done by A.I. or deep fake, there’ll be nothing to tell you that it’s not me and me alone, and it’s going to have some degree of lifelike quality.”