Stephen Fry is revealing his agents “went ballistic” over the uncanny similarities between his own voice and an AI recording that duped Fry narrating the “Harry Potter” audiobooks.
The actor, who serves as the voice behind the whole “Harry Potter” franchise audiobooks, demonstrated how his voice was mimicked by AI via a “flexible artificial voice” that could potentially put other voice actors like himself out of work.
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“I said not one word of that — it was a machine,” Fry told Fortune. “Yes, it shocked me. They used my reading of the seven volumes of the ‘Harry Potter’ books, and from that dataset, an AI of my voice was created and it made that new narration.”
He continued, “What you heard was not the result of a mash-up. This is from a flexible artificial voice, where the words are modulated to fit the meaning of each sentence. It could therefore have me read anything from a call to storm Parliament to hard porn, all without my knowledge and without my permission. And this, what you just heard, was done without my knowledge.”
Fry added, “So I heard about this, I sent it to my agents on both sides of the Atlantic, and they went ballistic — they had no idea such a thing was possible.”
The star cautioned over the technology: “Tech is not a noun, it is a verb, it is always moving. What we have now is not what will be. When it comes to AI models, what we have now will advance at a faster rate than any technology we have ever seen. One thing we can all agree on: It’s a fucking weird time to be alive.”
The role of artificial intelligence in Hollywood, particularly ChatGPT within writers’ rooms and AI copying the likeness of actors, is currently being negotiated amid both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. As Tom Hanks recently explained, the physical (and per Fry, audio) likeness of stars in certain roles is a debate over intellectual property rights.
“I can tell you that there [are] discussions going on in all of the guilds, all of the agencies, and all of the legal firms in order to come up with the legal ramifications of my face and my voice — and everybody else’s — being our intellectual property,” Hanks said. “I could be hit by a bus tomorrow and that’s it, but my performances can go on and on and on. Outside of the understanding that it’s been done by A.I. or deep fake, there’ll be nothing to tell you that it’s not me and me alone, and it’s going to have some degree of lifelike quality.”
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