The emergence of generative artificial intelligence, capable of creating synthetic voices barely distinguishable from human voices, poses a threat to voiceover artists, voice actors, and audiobook narrators. These professionals, ironically, have helped to nurture on a daily basis the technology that could now take away their livelihoods. Mario Filio, a Mexican voice actor and voiceover artist known for bringing to life characters such as the lemur King Julien in the animated movie “Madagascar,” says they are struggling with a significant challenge.
Generative AI creates text, images, videos, and voices using existing content without human intervention. To address this situation, a number of guilds and unions in Europe, the United States, and Latin America have formed the United Voices Organization (UVO), which seeks to promote legislation to regulate the relationship between AI and human creation. The overexploitation and lack of regulation of AI may lead to the extinction of an “artistic heritage of creativity” that machines cannot generate.
While voice artists were already competing with the text-to-speech (TTS) system used in assistants such as Alexa or Siri, AI has added machine learning, which allows software to generate voice clones based on millions of existing samples. This raises concerns about the human right to use voice and interpretation without consent. Platforms such as revoicer.com offer synthetic voices at much lower prices than professionals, increasing competition and raising concerns among voice artists.
Voice professionals are advocating for laws to protect their voice records and prevent them from being used to train AI without their consent. They also seek to establish human labor quotas and limit the use of synthetic voices in certain fields. Some countries, such as Argentina, have already implemented regulations restricting voiceovers to qualified individuals. However, AI still offers endless possibilities, such as the possibility of hearing the real voice of a famous actor in different languages but with the intonation of a dubbing artist.
Despite concerns, voice professionals are confident that AI will not be able to completely replace people, as it lacks the soul and emotionality that human actors can convey. The voice industry continues to struggle to protect its work and find a balance in coexistence with generative artificial intelligence.