OAKLAND / LOS ANGELES – Andy Chanley, the afternoon host of Southern California Public Radio 88.5 KCSN, has been a radio DJ for over 32 years. And now, thanks to artificial intelligence technology, his voice will live on in many places at the same time.
“I may be a robot, but I still love to rock,” said the robot DJ named ANDY, who hails from the Artificial Neural Disk-JockeY, in Chanley’s voice, during a demonstration for Reuters in which the voice was hard to distinguish from a human DJ.
Our phones, speakers and rice cookers have been talking to us for years, but their voices have been robotic. Seattle-based AI startup WellSaid Labs says it has refined the technology to create over 50 real human voice avatars like ANDY so far, where the producer simply has to enter text to create the narrative.
Zack Zalon, CEO of Los Angeles-based AI startup Super Hi-Fi, said ANDY will be integrated into its AI platform, which automates music production. So instead of a music playlist, ANDY DJ can experience, introduce the songs and talk about them.
The next step will be for AI to automate the text that is also created by humans. “It really is the triumvirate that we think will take this to the next level,” Zalon said.
This performance may give rise to concern about deep counterfeiting as AI perfects its imitation of humans in real time.
“On a weekly basis, we have a team of content moderators who want to cancel accounts,” said Martín Ramírez, growth manager at WellSaid. “If you create content that is not in line with our values and our ethical claims, then goodbye. It’s so straightforward for us.”
Ramirez said that once the voice avatars are created, WellSaid administers the commercial agreements according to the voice owner’s requests. WellSaid voice avatars do more than DJ work. They are used in the company’s training materials or even to read audiobooks, Ramirez said.
For Chanley, it’s extra important to leave a voice avatar, since his recovery from stage 2 lymphoma, which he discovered he had two years ago while recording his voice.
“It was perhaps the case that my 11- and six-year-old child, if things did not turn out the way I wanted, would never forget how I sound,” Chanley said with a feeling in her voice. “Elvis Presley broke up with his family long after he was gone. Maybe this, you know, is somehow what can send my kids to college one day. “