Tampa Bay Times: As your dead relative, I don’t want Amazon’s Alexa to mimic me

Tampa Bay Times: As your dead relative, I don’t want Amazon’s Alexa to mimic me. “Listen. I have passed on, and that is sad. But I implore you. I do not want this. For starters, this is the beginning of at least six to 10 horror movies, and you know it. This is demon-level behavior. This opens the portal in the basement. Yes, this brings me back into the house, but not the way you want me. Oh, at first, you think it’s me, but then things start to get weird and the kitchen chairs fly across the room.”

WIRED: The Race to Hide Your Voice

WIRED: The Race to Hide Your Voice. “As machines become better at understanding you through your voice, companies are cashing in. Voice recognition systems—from Siri and Alexa to those using your voice as your password—have proliferated in recent years as artificial intelligence and machine learning have unlocked the ability to understand not just what you are saying but who you are. Big Voice may be a $20 billion industry within a few years. And as the market grows, privacy-focused researchers are increasingly searching for ways to protect people from having their voice data used against them.”

The Verge: Siri gets a new voice in iOS 15.4 beta

The Verge: Siri gets a new voice in iOS 15.4 beta. “The latest beta of iOS 15.4 adds a fifth American voice for its Siri voice assistant. Apple’s user-facing interface simply calls it ‘Voice 5,’ but iOS developer Steve Moser reports that its filename refers to the new voice as ‘Quinn.’ The voice has arrived a little under a year after Apple added its last two American Siri voices, and stopped defaulting to using a female-sounding voice.”

Send in the clones: Using artificial intelligence to digitally replicate human voices (NPR)

NPR: Send in the clones: Using artificial intelligence to digitally replicate human voices. “Talking machines like Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa, or a bank’s automated customer service line, are now sounding quite human. Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, or AI, we’ve reached a point where it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish synthetic voices from real ones. I wanted to find out what’s involved in the process at the customer end. So I approached San Francisco Bay Area-based natural language speech synthesis company Speech Morphing about creating a clone – or ‘digital double’ – of my own voice.”

The Verge: Disney partners with TikTok for official text-to-speech voices from Stitch, Chewbacca, Rocket Raccoon, and more

The Verge: Disney partners with TikTok for official text-to-speech voices from Stitch, Chewbacca, Rocket Raccoon, and more. “Disney is teaming up with TikTok to add official character voices to the popular social media app’s text-to-speech feature, allowing you to have your captions read by Lilo and Stitch’s Stitch, C-3PO, Chewbacca, a Stormtrooper from Star Wars, and Rocket Raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy.”

The Next Web: Why Alexa and not Alexander? How gendered voice assistants are hurting as they help

The Next Web: Why Alexa and not Alexander? How gendered voice assistants are hurting as they help. “For a society that hasn’t quite broken out of its mindset around traditional gender roles, seeing women as everyone else’s helpers instead of their own people with their own destinies is par for the course. We even see this reflected in the emerging field of AI voice assistants – all of which sound female.”

VentureBeat: Google’s Translatotron 2 removes ability to deepfake voices

VentureBeat: Google’s Translatotron 2 removes ability to deepfake voices. “In 2019, Google released Translatotron, an AI system capable of directly translating a person’s voice into another language. The system could create synthesized translations of voices to keep the sound of the original speaker’s voice intact. But Translatotron could also be used to generate speech in a different voice, making it ripe for potential misuse in, for example, deepfakes.”

Rolling Stone: Holly Herndon Releases AI Deepfake Tool That Lets Others Make Music With Her Voice

Rolling Stone: Holly Herndon Releases AI Deepfake Tool That Lets Others Make Music With Her Voice. “Holly Herndon has released a new artificial intelligence tool — which the composer is also referring to as her ‘digital twin’ — called ‘Holly+’ that allows users to upload any polyphonic audio and receive a new version of that music sung in Herndon’s own voice.” I tried it with an old novelty song I downloaded from Internet Archive. The Holly+ version sounded like a drunk carousel underwater. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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.”

The Next Web: Skyrim modders are using AI to generate new spoken dialogue

The Next Web: Skyrim modders are using AI to generate new spoken dialogue. “If you’re unimpressed by some of Skyrim’s hilarious dialogue, a new AI app called VASynth lets you take over the scriptwriting. The tool uses voice samples from Bethesda games to convert text into speech. You can generate dialogue in the style of many voices from the publisher’s back catalog, including Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Morrowind.”

University of New South Wales: Hey Google, it’s time you listened closely to what our kids are saying

University of New South Wales: Hey Google, it’s time you listened closely to what our kids are saying. “Up until now, speech recognition software that powers virtual assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri has relied on a growing database of adult voices. But all that is about to change with the launch of AusKidTalk, a joint project of five Australian universities that aims to build a world-first database of Australian children’s voices.”

‘Voices of San Quentin’; Instagram Page Portrays Prisoners, Families Cut Off By COVID (KPIX)

KPIX: ‘Voices of San Quentin’; Instagram Page Portrays Prisoners, Families Cut Off By COVID. “Marion Wickerd’s husband, Tommy, is serving time in San Quentin for voluntary manslaughter. He tested positive for COVID-19, and doesn’t show symptoms, but she’s worried…. So she’s turning to social media. ‘The Voices of San Quentin’ Instagram is allowing people to share what’s going on with their loved ones, with their fears,” she explained.”

VentureBeat: Mozilla Common Voice updates will help train the ‘Hey Firefox’ wakeword for voice-based web browsing

VentureBeat: Mozilla Common Voice updates will help train the ‘Hey Firefox’ wakeword for voice-based web browsing. “Mozilla today released the latest version of Common Voice, its open source collection of transcribed voice data for startups, researchers, and hobbyists to build voice-enabled apps, services, and devices. Common Voice now contains over 7,226 total hours of contributed voice data in 54 different languages, up from 1,400 hours across 18 languages in February 2019.”