Voice acting associations around the world are up against AI

While some analysts estimate that 300 million jobs are ultimately threatened by the development of artificial intelligence, the field of dubbing seems particularly exposed to these risks. In the middle of the Cannes Film Festival, the United Voice Artists (UVA), an international coalition of artists’ unions and associations, professionally active in the field of recorded voice, is alert to the replacement of human voices by their digital doubles.

“Destruction of an artistic heritage steeped in creativity and emotions, which no machine can produce”

“The act of creating is part of human nature and consists of using one’s imagination and vision of the future, especially through the human voice. The unregulated and indiscriminate use of artificial intelligence constitutes a risk that could lead to the destruction of an artistic heritage steeped in creativity and emotions, which no machine can produceprotests the collective, in a press release published in French by the French association Les Voix. In order to protect and preserve this heritage, professional recorded voice artists, members of the main European associations and unions (France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Poland), as well as from Switzerland, the United States, from Turkey and Latin America, have joined forces to create UVA, United Voice Artists”.

The AVU wants to work with European decision makers to “define regulations allowing the use of AI technologies compatible with human creativity, respectful of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the rights of artists”. It calls on EU policy makers and legislators to address both the legal and ethical risks inherent in designing, training and marketing AI-generated content, and to adapt the protection of performers’ rights and the provisions of the GDPR taking into account the development of AI technologies.

A first alert launched in April

It must be said that if the news revolves around AI generating text and images, the progress made in the field of voice is impressive. The Defend Intelligence youtuber, in a recent video, for example, made Emmanuel Macron sing Aznavour. Another example: on YouTube, more and more songs reinterpreted with the voices of artists who have never sung them are appearing. This is the case of Paul McCartney, with his young man’s voice, who can be heard singing the Beach Boys at the bend of a chain.

On April 4, the association Les Voix had already published a press release alerting to certain contracts made with performers and which “provide for very broad unpaid assignments of rights for undefined uses”. The association had also proposed a paragraph to be added in all contracts (dubbing, voice-over, advertising, podcast, audio books…) in order to guarantee that the voices could not be used to feed machine learning programs and to develop AIs.

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