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Voice Cloning in the Spotlight: Respeecher's CEO Discusses AI's Promises and Perils on BBC Radio

Apr 23, 2024 12:36:45 PM

Voice cloning technology, driven by advancements in artificial intelligence, is revolutionizing communication but also posing significant risks. Featured on a recent BBC Today segment, this news story is about voice cloning, spotlighting Respeecher, a Ukrainian AI company pioneering this technology. Despite facing challenges during the Russian invasion, Respeecher has made remarkable strides, contributing to projects like Disney's "Obi-Wan Kenobi" series and winning an Emmy Award for its work on the short film "In Event of Moon Disaster."

Respeecher's pioneering work showcases the incredible potential of AI in replicating voices with astonishing accuracy, as seen in their collaborations with Disney and MIT. 

Respeecher CEO, Alex Serdiuk, highlights the company's advancements, including the ability to clone voices more easily. In the past, Respeecher required several hours of Nixon's voice from the Nixon Library to create a voice model. Now, the company can achieve the same results with just a few minutes of audio data.

When asked about the proximity of their technology to real-time conversations, Serdiuk explains:

"I would say we have a piece of technology that enables real-time alterations, with only a minimal delay of several hundred milliseconds. This ensures smooth transitions for phone conversations, allowing us to modify voices seamlessly on the fly."


Oleksandr Serdiuk, CEO


This breakthrough has promising applications, particularly in healthcare, offering hope to individuals who have lost their voices due to conditions like throat cancer.

However, the report also exposes the dark side of voice cloning, as illustrated by an incident recounted by Jennifer DeStefano before the US Senate Judiciary Committee. DeStefano received a distressing call purportedly from her daughter, only to realize it was a scam using cloned voices to extort money. This chilling example underscores the urgent need for regulation to combat such fraudulent activities.

As Serdiuk points out, responsible use and regulation are needed to prevent misuse, especially in instances like impersonating loved ones for extortion. Professor Brent Mittelstadt from the Oxford Internet Institute also emphasizes the necessity of regulatory measures, citing initiatives in the US and the European Union to address the risks posed by AI-generated voice profiles. Despite strides in regulation, hesitancy in the UK underscores the ongoing debate surrounding AI ethics and policy.

Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud, and cybercrime reporting centre, confirms the growing prevalence of voice cloning in criminal activities, ranging from bank fraud to impersonating celebrities for financial gain.

As voices can be manipulated with unprecedented accuracy, the need for regulation becomes increasingly pressing to safeguard against exploitation. With voices becoming as easy to hack as text, policymakers face the challenge of balancing innovation with accountability in an evolving technological landscape.

Image of Orysia Khimiak
Orysia Khimiak

PR and Comms Manager

For the past 9 years, have been engaged in Global PR of early stage and AI startups, in particular Reface, Allset, and now Respeecher. Clients were featured in WSJ, Forbes, Mashable, the Verge, Tech Crunch, and Financial Times. For over a year, I Orysia been conducting PR Basics course on Projector. During the war, became more actively involved as a fixer and worked with the BBC, Guardian and The Times.

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