Hello Voice Actors! It’s Been a While!
Hello, fellow voiceover people, it’s been a while! It’s to see you again, and I hope you’re enjoying the new website! I won’t take the time to bore you with reasons why I haven’t been here. I will say, though, that I’m excited to see back, excited to see what becomes of my business, and happy to share that with you. So let’s go ahead and get into the meat of this blog post.
If you haven’t started following my social media, you should definitely stop reading this article and go do that. I’ll wait! Ok, now that you’re back, it’s currently the week of March 5-12, 2023. I’ve taken the week to talk a little bit on social media about AI and the buzz I’ve been hearing in the background of this industry about it. There is certainly some fear that AI generated voices are going to disrupt our industry, but I’m here to argue why I don’t believe it will happen to any great extent and why I don’t think that it’s a bad thing.
The Intelligence of AI
Artificial intelligence is something that we hear about a lot in science fiction. Usually, it ends up with it gaining sentience and destroying humanity in some kind of “Event Horizon”. Unless of course it enjoys its life as the brain of a star ship or building of some sort. It’s pretty cool to me that we’ve all lived long enough to see something from the future become “reality” in a way.
I recently voiced a social media post for a client that talked about AI. The post talked about Machine Intelligence which is the umbrella term for the way computer systems learn, develop, and adapt without being told what to do by a human. It produces “Weak AI” that doesn’t truly think and focuses on a limited number of things. However, if things progress as they have been, one day we’ll have “Strong AI” which will go much further than this! The possibilities are potentially endless as AI continues to develop and get better at what it does.
So is it Useful?
Without a doubt, AI has its usefulness. I personally use AI to help with my own creativity. It’s a wonderful tool to craft practice scripts and character slides. I also used it to help me homebrew my setting for the Persona themed TTRPG that I run opposite my D&D podcast. My brother-in-law used it to craft an entire birthday one-shot for my sister. There are TikToks all over that talk about using it for table top.
A friend of mine uses it to curate social media posts for his business. I’ve found use in doing the same for mine to help me hone in on my own posts. IT professionals are using it to write code to help them fix problems with machines with a high degree of success. Even AI art, which is the major seed of controversy with AI, is breaking away from using existing artwork to create the “airtwork” that it creates. However, it’s important to remember that AI is and was always intended to be a tool to be used by humans, and that brings me to my next point.
Will AI Take Voiceover Jobs from Voice Actors?
Honestly, I don’t think it will. Regardless of what may happen with AI, the “human element” is required for the voiceover industry. And I can hear all of you now reminding me of THIS article; “But James Earl Jones just sold his voice as Darth Vader to Disney to recreate it with AI!”. Yes, he did. They can now AI generate his voice for voiceover. But in the episode of Kenobi in which it happens, there’s still a human element to it. It’s still going off of Hayden Christensen’s line delivery, which I’ll admit is quite good in the Kenobi series. The reason that voice generation works so well for a character like Darth Vader is because his voice is already portrayed as largely robotic.
I’ve heard delivery of AI voices for commercial reads as well, and they’re also quite good. I’d go so far as to say 85-90% of a human voice, but it’s still just a little bit too perfect. Enough so that it kind of falls into the uncanny valley. I know some of you won’t like hearing this, but the best thing we as voice actors bring to read is just the little bit of imperfection. It’s what makes them human and is the one thing that we will always have on AI. And you know what? That’s ok! I hope you enjoyed reading this and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Thanks for checking it out, and I’ll see you all in the next one!