OpenAI, the creators of ChatGPT, provided a glimpse into their latest artificial intelligence (AI) innovation on Friday—a tool known as Voice Engine, capable of generating “natural-sounding speech” and mimicking human voices with remarkable accuracy. According to OpenAI’s blog post, Voice Engine can produce lifelike speech from just a single 15-second audio sample, closely resembling the original speaker.

This cutting-edge AI tool has far-reaching applications, including reading assistance, content translation, and providing a voice for individuals who are nonverbal or afflicted by speech conditions. Despite its potential benefits, OpenAI acknowledges the serious risks associated with Voice Engine, particularly in an election year.

Development of Voice Engine began in late 2022, with private testing conducted among a select group of trusted partners starting late last year. OpenAI stresses that these partners adhere to stringent usage policies, ensuring explicit consent from the original speaker and prohibiting unauthorized impersonation.

To maintain transparency, any audio generated by Voice Engine is watermarked to aid in tracing its origin. OpenAI advocates for widespread deployment of voice authentication to verify the original speaker’s consent and suggests implementing a “no-go voice list” to prevent the creation of voices resembling prominent figures.

Moreover, OpenAI recommends phasing out voice-based authentication for sensitive information access, such as bank accounts. Despite these precautions, the company remains cautious about releasing Voice Engine more broadly.

OpenAI aims to foster a dialogue on the responsible deployment of synthetic voices, considering societal adaptation to these advancements. Based on ongoing discussions and test results, the company will make informed decisions regarding the technology’s widespread deployment.

The unveiling of Voice Engine comes amid escalating concerns surrounding AI-generated deepfakes and their potential to propagate misinformation, particularly in the context of elections. As OpenAI navigates the ethical and societal implications of Voice Engine, the tech community awaits further insights into the future of this transformative AI tool.

By Impact Lab