I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can do that: Microsoft unveils Custom Neural Voice – synthetic, but human-sounding speech (The Register)

The Register: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can do that: Microsoft unveils Custom Neural Voice – synthetic, but human-sounding speech. “Microsoft has pushed its Custom Neural Voice service to general availability, although you’ll have to ask the company nicely if you want to use the vaguely unsettling text-to-speech service. Unsettling, because unlike the usual text to speech we’ve come to know and love over the years, which require a substantial amount of data (10,000 lines or more, according to Microsoft) to sound fluent, Custom Neural Voice requires far less in terms of training audio. The result is disturbingly human-like.”

Mummy returns: Voice of 3,000-year-old Egyptian priest brought to life (BBC)

BBC: Mummy returns: Voice of 3,000-year-old Egyptian priest brought to life. “When Nesyamun died, his voice fell silent, but 3,000 years on, a team of researchers have brought it back to life. They have done so by producing a 3D-printed voice box based Nesyamun’s vocal tract, which was scanned to establish its precise dimensions. By using the vocal tract with an artificial larynx sound, they synthesised a vowel sound meant to be similar to the voice of Nesyamun.”

Engadget: Quips is an AI to help ALS patients speak with their own voice

Engadget: Quips is an AI to help ALS patients speak with their own voice. “One of the most devastating outcomes of motor neuron disease (MND), more commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease in the US, is that it eventually takes away the ability of those who have it to speak. But like it promises to do in a lot of other areas, artificial intelligence could soon help MND patients better cope with their condition thanks to a new tool developed by Rolls-Royce and its R² Data Labs.”

The Verge: Descript’s new podcast editor includes an AI voice double for dubbing over mistakes

Wow. The Verge: Descript’s new podcast editor includes an AI voice double for dubbing over mistakes. “Essentially, Descript turns your audio into text, broken up by who’s speaking, and it then lets you manipulate those audio files as if you were editing on a text version of the script in a word processor. Delete a sentence or two, and Descript will automatically shorten the file to make the recording sound smooth and natural.”

Quartz: “Voice skins” will make the internet a freer—but more dangerous—place

Quartz: “Voice skins” will make the internet a freer—but more dangerous—place. “For many, anonymity frees us from accountability. Untethered to our physical selves, free from our names and the possibility of injury to reputation, we can say and do things we might not otherwise because the societal consequences are eliminated. As Oscar Wilde put it in 1891, ‘Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.’ That’s got both upsides and downsides.”

Neowin: UN body raises concerns over digital assistants defaulting to female voices

Neowin: UN body raises concerns over digital assistants defaulting to female voices. “A new publication from UNESCO has raised concerns over digital assistants which default to a female voice and the impact this could be having on people. In the new report, called ‘I’d blush if I could’, UNESCO raises the concerns that it has and how they can be addressed.”

Eyerys: ‘Q’, The First Gender-Neutral Digital Voice Assistant In Challenging Gender Stereotypes

Eyerys: ‘Q’, The First Gender-Neutral Digital Voice Assistant In Challenging Gender Stereotypes. “While some people may find a female voice to be more soothing, but in the world where technology is hardwiring sexism into the future, more and more people are demanding equality between genders. With so much female servitude in smart devices, this is where Q resides. Q, is considered the world’s first gender-neutral voice assistant.”