OpenAI Debuts Voice-Cloning Tech, But Won’t Release It Widely | Tech

OpenAI couldn’t help itself: The company has developed voice-cloning technology that’s so good it’s bound to both impress and scare users. But for now, OpenAI is only releasing the system to select partners.

Called Voice Engine, the technology can clone your voice simply by listening to a 15-second clip of you talking. In addition, the replicated voice can convey emotion and the natural cadence of human speech, making the AI-generated dialog sound realistic.

OpenAI says that it first developed Voice Engine in late 2022 to power the text-to-speech capability for ChatGPT. But rather than release Voice Engine to the public, the company has essentially decided that society isn’t quite ready for it — at least not yet.

“We are taking a cautious and informed approach to a broader release due to the potential for synthetic voice misuse,” the company wrote in a blog post that showcases several examples of Voice Engine in action.

As you can hear, the AI-generated speech is often indistinguishable from the reference audio. In the wrong hands, it’s obvious the technology could be used to pump out deepfakes to misinform the public. But despite the potential for misuse, OpenAI says Voice Engine could be useful for society.

The blog post goes on to say that starting late last year the company began testing Voice Engine “with a small group of trusted partners.” The results show that the voice cloning could be used as a reading assistant for school children. It can also act as a translator, using the person’s voice to speak in multiple different languages.

Another use case involves providing the voice-cloning technology to people who’ve lost the ability to speak, similar to what Apple is doing. As a result, OpenAI has decided to release Voice Engine in preview mode to partners who agree to never use the technology for unauthorized impersonation purposes.

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