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Respeecher Takes the Stage at Cannes NEXT: Shaping the Future of Film with AI and Ethical Practices

Jun 20, 2023 5:54:48 AM

As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, the film industry finds itself at a crossroads, grappling with the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to revolutionise the way content is created.

Respeecher recently participated in the esteemed Cannes NEXT conference held on May 17th - 22nd. At the panel discussion titled "AI Apocalypse or Revolution? Rethinking Creativity, Content & Cinema in the Age of AI," Anna Bulakh, the Head of Ethics and Partnerships at Respeecher, delivered an insightful speech highlighting the crucial distinctions between deepfakes, synthetic media, and voice synthesis.

With a firm focus on ethical principles and responsible use, Respeecher aims to reshape the creative landscape while maintaining the integrity and safeguarding against potential misuse.

Democratizing Creativity

One of the panelists, Hovhannes Avoyan, the CEO of Picsart, shared his inspiring vision of "democratizing creativity." By harnessing the power of AI, Avoyan aims to provide accessible tools that empower artists and creators. AI is not a threat to creativity; instead, it acts as a powerful ally that enhances and streamlines the creative process. Avoyan's words resonate strongly, reminding us that AI can assist artists, unleashing their potential and expanding their artistic horizons.

Embracing Change

Despite concerns raised by industry professionals regarding the impact of AI on job security, panelist Sander Saar emphasized the need to embrace change rather than fear it. Saar, a futurist and strategy consultant for Red Bull Media House, drew parallels with historical technological advancements such as the automobile or calculator. These innovations did not render human expertise obsolete but rather augmented our capabilities. Similarly, AI will revolutionize the filmmaking process, empowering creators to push boundaries and explore new possibilities.

Hyper-Personalized IP: A New Era of Creation

A buzz phrase that permeated the panel discussion was "hyper-personalized IP." This concept envisions a future where individuals will have the tools to create their own personalized entertainment experiences using AI. Saar showcased a video where a child's drawings came to life, illustrating the potential for children to become creators themselves. The line between creators and the audience will blur, allowing everyone to participate in the filmmaking process. Avoyan even suggested that the traditional concept of distribution houses may become obsolete as individuals directly share their creations.

The Algorithm as the Gatekeeper

With the democratisation of content creation, questions arise regarding who will act as gatekeepers in this new era. The answer lies in algorithms, which will play a crucial role in curating and recommending content. Saar addressed concerns about creators blaming algorithms for the lack of views, highlighting that quality content will always find an audience. The algorithm acts as a guide, connecting viewers with content that aligns with their preferences and interests.

Understanding the Nuances

Anna Bulakh, our Head of Ethics and Partnerships, shed light on the differentiation between deepfakes, synthetic media, and voice synthesis. She emphasized that while these technologies have transformative potential for movies, video games, and other creative ventures, they also possess the capability to deceive individuals by making them believe someone said something they did not. Such deception is fundamentally wrong, especially when it leads to fraud or the dissemination of fake news.

Ethical Voice Cloning Principles

Respeecher's ethical voice cloning principles serve as a robust framework to guide their decision-making process. We prioritize privacy, consent, and preventing deceptive uses of our technology. Respeecher ensures that voices are not employed without permission, particularly if it impacts the subject's privacy or livelihood. For instance, we never use the voices of private individuals or actors without explicit consent. However, in limited cases, Respeecher has used the voices of historical figures like Richard Nixon, non-deceptively, solely to demonstrate the capabilities of the technology. 

Enforcing Ethical Practices

Respeecher is committed to upholding its ethical standards and taking tangible steps to prevent potential violations. 

“We don’t allow you to re-create someone’s voice without permission, and we as a company are pushing for this as a best practice worldwide.”

- Anna Bulakh

We do not provide a public API for creating new voices, to ensure the technology remains in the hands of trusted clients. We also request written consent from voice owners to further safeguard against unauthorized use. Respeecher exercises strict scrutiny during project approvals, ensuring that only ventures meeting their rigorous standards are greenlit. In addition, Respeecher is actively developing watermarking technology to enable easy identification of Respeecher-generated content, even when it is disguised among other audio elements.

The Future of Discovery

While the panelists discussed the exciting possibilities offered by AI, they did not shy away from contemplating what may be lost in a future where personalized content dominates. Will future generations, raised on personalized videos, embrace the joy of discovering something new? Will they line up in the rain to watch a movie crafted by someone else? These questions challenge us to balance personalized experiences and the serendipity of exploring uncharted territories.

The panel discussion at Cannes NEXT highlighted the immense potential of AI in transforming the film industry. Rather than fearing an AI apocalypse, the conversation revolved around embracing the opportunities it presents. With AI as a powerful tool in our creative arsenal, we have the chance to redefine the boundaries of content creation and fuel a new era of artistic expression. At Respeecher, we are excited to be at the forefront of this revolution, pushing the boundaries of voice technology and advocating ethical practices. Let us embrace the evolution of creativity.

You can watch and listen to the full panel discussion here:

This story was initially published in The Hollywood Reporter.

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