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Monday, September 25, 2023

Deepfake or Synthetic Voice. What’s the difference?


Deepfakes and the technologies behind them have become a hot topic in the last five years. The new technology has given way to a new, creative solution that affects many industries. It also gave rise to many ethical questions, largely driven by the misuse of the technology and negative press. 

However, it’s impossible to highlight only the positive aspects without addressing the negatives. When done ethically, deepfakes, also known as synthetic voice or voice cloning, can be a driving force for good. Let’s find out more about deepfake voice, including its benefits and drawbacks. 

What does “a deepfake voice” mean?

A deepfake can mean literally anything manipulated by AI-powered technology. It can be a video or audio track, or even a photo. The term was coined by Ian Goodfellow, the director of machine learning at Apple.

This concept is a combination of deep learning and artificially generated content since deepfakes are created by a generative adversarial algorithm. It can learn as humans can. The algorithm can analyze its own mistakes and learn from them, as if it were competing with itself. The system encourages the algorithm to correct actions and scolds it for errors. 

Thanks to advancements in AI-enabled technologies, creating deepfakes is like a walk in the park in 2022. You just need to record your voice without reservations and interference and then send it to the platform that can process it. 

Before AI, creating realistic deepfakes required a lot more than just an audio recording. First, you needed an audio recording, then the speech had to be divided into component sounds, and only then could a specialist combine them to form new sounds. 

Now, neural networks do all the hard work. They are trained using sets of speech data of any volume and quality so that neural networks can determine a real person’s speech faster and more precisely. Before, the system required tens if not hundreds of hours of content. Today, creating deepfake voices can be generated with just a few minutes of audio. 

Synthetic voice or a deepfake voice?

Deepfake voices and synthetic voices have the same basis, but they serve different purposes. They are both created with the help of AI-powered algorithms. These algorithms can replicate a human voice with 100% accuracy in likeness and tone. 

Synthetic voices are used for entertainment and business purposes while deepfake voices are associated with scams. But this is just a perception. There are tons of applications where deepfake voices can be used for good. For example, voice cloning can help patients with speech disabilities get their voices back

A synthetic voice means the same as a deepfake voice, but the leading AI companies prefer to align with synthetic media rather than continue with the negative stigma attached to the ‘deepfake’ name. 

Where are synthetic voices used?

Tech and AI advancements helped synthetic media pave the way in multiple industries, including entertainment, marketing, customer service, movies, and healthcare. Here are the most common use cases of synthetic voices:

  • TV shows and movies. Synthetic voices can be generated for dubbing actors’ voices in post-production. 
  • Animation. With speech synthesis, your animations can be voiced however you want. 
  • Audiobooks and podcasts. Speech synthesis allows the audience to listen to the author reading their own words. Yeah, even Shakespeare can cite his read his own poems. (If there was a recording of Shakespeare speaking, of course).
  • Advertising. With speech synthesis, you can load your ads with region-specific pronunciation and stay closer to your audience. 
  • Language localization. Voice cloning makes it possible to enable one person to speak another language in their own voice.
  • Voice rejuvenation. AI-generated voices can help resurrect famous voices. You could use it to add a historical voice to a project or dub the film if an actor passes away before a project is finished. 
  • Healthcare. Voice cloning can help patients with diseases affecting their speech abilities like laryngeal cancer, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, paralysis, and others. Voice cloning can improve their quality of life and help them live their lives to the fullest. 

Summing up 

Apart from being a golden pill, voice cloning can be dangerous. While someone uses it for good, like revolutionizing movies or helping people speak again, others can utilize voice cloning to swindle and cheat. 

That’s why it’s of the utmost importance to stick to ethical principles when producing synthetic media and educating people about the real value of voice cloning. Making voice synthesis legible and accessible to businesses, charities, and creative projects can help spread knowledge and protect the technology from scammers and unethical use. 

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