I have to tell you that I'm just a little freaked out about the idea of AI and the concept of what is being called “voice cloning”. This is something that's already going on, on the commercial level. Recently I saw an ad online featuring a very prominent industrialist. Endorsing a product that I'm not sure he would endorse. Did he really say those words? I don't think so. 

Unknown number calling in the middle of the night. Phone call from stranger.
Tero Vesalainen

There are other issues with voice cloning. Let's say somebody that sounds like your boss calls you and tells you that they need some information for their payroll tax and they're asking you for your Social Security number or maybe your bank account numbers so they can directly deposit your paycheck. Maybe somebody that sounds like a family member will call you to tell you about an emergency and they need money right away. 

golden color microphone detail in music and sound recording studio, black background, closeup
Robert Podlaski

These are things that are actually going on right now.  

Well, the FTC is fighting back. Last year they had what they called a voice cloning challenge. The main goal of which was to find innovative ways to help people dealing with AI enabled voice cloning scams. Now the FTC is announcing they have awarded 4 top prizes. 

Conceptual hand writing showing Phone Scam. Business photo text getting unwanted calls to promote products or service Telesales Keyboard red key create computer computing reflection document.
Scam Artur

According to consumer.ftc.gov, 

  • a solution that would use algorithms to detect whether voice patterns are human or synthetic 
  • a technology that would detect in real time voice cloning and deep fakes in incoming phone calls or digital audio in two-second chunks, assigning a “liveness score” 
  • a proposal that would watermark audio with distortions that people would not be able to hear, but that could throw off AI voice cloners so that the audio could not be accurately cloned 
  • a technology that would authenticate that a voice is human and embed the authentication as a type of watermark
    Podcast or live streaming
    Marcio Binow Da Silva

    I love all of these ideas, the downside for me is, “OK now I have to get another app on my phone?” (or is it 4 apps?) 

    I'm not a big fan of adding more apps to my phone. It's complex enough as it is. 

    If you spot a voice cloning scam, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. 

    Fighting back against harmful voice cloning | Consumer Advice (ftc.gov)  

    The FTC Voice Cloning Challenge | Federal Trade Commission 


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