Jan 22, 2023

Microsoft’s New AI Can Clone Your Voice in Just 3 Seconds

Posted by in categories: media & arts, robotics/AI

AI is being used to generate everything from images to text to artificial proteins, and now another thing has been added to the list: speech. Last week researchers from Microsoft released a paper on a new AI called VALL-E that can accurately simulate anyone’s voice based on a sample just three seconds long. VALL-E isn’t the first speech simulator to be created, but it’s built in a different way than its predecessors—and could carry a greater risk for potential misuse.

Most existing text-to-speech models use waveforms (graphical representations of sound waves as they move through a medium over time) to create fake voices, tweaking characteristics like tone or pitch to approximate a given voice. VALL-E, though, takes a sample of someone’s voice and breaks it down into components called tokens, then uses those tokens to create new sounds based on the “rules” it already learned about this voice. If a voice is particularly deep, or a speaker pronounces their A’s in a nasal-y way, or they’re more monotone than average, these are all traits the AI would pick up on and be able to replicate.

The model is based on a technology called EnCodec by Meta, which was just released this part October. The tool uses a three-part system to compress audio to 10 times smaller than MP3s with no loss in quality; its creators meant for one of its uses to be improving the quality of voice and music on calls made over low-bandwidth connections.

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