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OPLIN 4Cast #789: Can audiobooks without humans be successful?

Posted in AI

Over the years, I’ve listened to my fair share of audiobooks. Even though I’ve worked from home for over a decade, I’ve driven a lot of long road trips that have made staying awake an absolute necessity. Audiobooks have filled that need, along with keeping me and my family entertained in the interim. I’ve only very rarely run into books that have boring narrators, thankfully. Most have amazing voicing and acting. But what happens when humans are taken out of the equation?

  • Synthetic Voices Want to Take Over Audiobooks [Wired] “Synthetic voices have become less grating in recent years, in part due to artificial intelligence research by companies such as Google and Amazon, which compete to offer virtual assistants and cloud services with smoother artificial tones. Those advances have also been used to make reality-spoofing “deepfakes.” Speechki is one of several startups developing speech synthesis for audiobooks.”
  • AI Influence on Audiobooks Grows—As Does Controversy [Publishers Weekly] “Lawrence believes there are many ethical issues surrounding AI technology. “For example,” she notes, “if I were to license my voice, and lose all control over how my voice is then used, my voice could potentially be used to voice content that I find morally repulsive.” She also points out that “as of now, a lot of AI licensing consists of non-union contracts,” and that narrators are vulnerable to entering agreements that exploit their voices and don’t offer fair compensation.”
  • Audiobooks, AI, and humans – where do they stand? [Good eReader] “Typically, producing an audiobook can take months with the cost easily stretching into thousands of dollars. Much of that involves studio time as well as paying the voice artist. Plus, there is significant post-production work involved too. All of this makes producing an audiobook quite an arduous as well as an expensive affair. No wonder, this has created the space for the AI-enabled text-to-speech tools that can prove to be an exact replica of the human voice.”
  • AI Comes to Audiobooks [Publishers Weekly] “The value proposition for automated audiobook creation becomes a combination of cost and convenience, where convenience is a combination of both simplifying and vastly accelerating the production process. A few new startups claim to be able to produce audiobooks in days or even hours, rather than months.”

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