Remember when China’s Xinhua News Agency debuted its first AI news presenter modeled after real Xinhua anchor Zhang Zhao (taking “fake news” to a whole new level)?
Not to be outdone, Amazon has taken fake presenters to a whole new level–fake endorsers! No more celebrity endorsers with their inflated fees for endorsing products they may or may not care about. Oh, no. Amazon goes all the way to fake on a one way trip to Minority Report-land. According to Venture Beat:
If Amazon has its way, companies will soon tap Amazon Web Services (AWS) en masse to create voices tailored to their brands. The Seattle tech giant today launched Brand Voice, a fully managed service within Amazon Polly, Amazon’s cloud service that converts text into lifelike speech, that pairs customers with Amazon engineers to build AI-generated voices representing certain personas….
But this is the most ridiculous part of the story:
Such technology has obvious commercial implications. Brand voices — such as Progressive’s Flo, who is played by actress and comedian Stephanie Courtney — are often tasked with recording phone trees for interactive voice response (IVR) systems or e-learning scripts for corporate training videos. Synthesization could boost actors’ productivity by cutting down on ancillary recordings and pick-ups (recording sessions to address mistakes, changes, or additions in voiceover scripts) while freeing them up to pursue creative work — and enabling them to collect residuals.
Right. See, Amazon’s just trying to be helpful. Because the actors will still “collect residuals”. Really? (Remember Fraley v. Facebook when Facebook ripped off the right of publicity of millions of its users? If they’ll do that, what makes you think that Amazon’s true motivation is to help actors “collect residuals” rather than not pay actors at all?)
And if that’s even true, how long to you think that’s going to last? It’s a rather selective fact choice anyway because the real question is how much longer until the actor is replaced altogether and how close can the fake AI actor get to the original before its a right of publicity case?
Even that issue will probably not be around for very long–the direction is to replace the actor altogether like Max Headroom.
So why is this man laughing at you?