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The Voice of Geralt Is Worried about AI

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Cestus
4 min

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The Voice of Geralt Is Worried about AI
Where will this technology lead?

In his recent interview with IGN, Doug Cockle voiced some serious concerns about the dangers of AI voice acting in the field of video game. The crux of the issue lies in the fact that the advancement of technology made it very simple for people to copy someone's voice, and to use it in any way they see fit.

This means anything from harmless memes, to misinformation or offensive statements, which Cockle points out as particularly dangerous, as people these days have a stronger association between character voice and the person behind it.

However, it's not all doom and gloom. Cockle himself goes on to clarify that the intent matters more than the tool that's used in carrying out that intent. For example, while modders occasionally utilize AI voice acting, they're doing it to make the best possible mod they can because they love their game. It's still a contentious topic and an ethical line needs to be drawn somewhere, but modding efforts are far removed from people who want to utilize AI maliciously.

He also spoke with various AI companies, including Morpheme.ai led by voice actor Cissy Jones, and they're all moving towards embracing AI but underlining that voice actors need to have more control over their digitized voices.

Until a solution is found, it will likely remain a contentious topic, as even things that are seen as relatively ethical, still have possible negative repercussions. For example, there is a controversy surrounding the use of AI voice acting in The Finals, a new F2P FPS from the ex-developers of Battlefield. With the permission of voice actors, they used their voices to have dynamic AI commentary in the game. Everything is consentual and everyone gets paid, so what's the catch?

Well, seasoned voice actor Gianni Matragrano who you might know from Ultrakill, Gloomwood, Heroes of Newerth, or countless other games, has pointed out some of the issue with the reasoning that developers used for utilizing AI voice acting.

Voice actor are not billionaires who ask for massive royalties and take months to record their lines. It's often a quick deal that even smaller indie devs can afford, not to mention companies like Embark, which are backed by massive publishers.

Not to mention, what happens when more voice actors agree to these terms and landing your voice to the developer becomes a norm? You get more stilted voice acting, while voice actors that don't comply with these conditions will have to go elsewhere. It's a big ol' can of worms when it comes to ethics.

Now moving towards fighting games, it's interesting where this could go if Japan embraces the AI technology. While the Japanese seiyu typically get more respect and prestige than their western colleagues, it's still not such a profitable career path for many of them.

So what happens when a company finds out that they could pay them for a bunch of voice samples to train the AI, and then use it however they like? Would Tekken players be okay if they heard the voice of Daisuke Gori after his passing? Something like this already happened with Cyberpunk 2077, where Miłogost Reczek, the Polish voice actor for Viktor Vektor, was brought back with the use of AI.

Questions like that are numerous, not to mention how it could affect modding, since companies like Capcom already seem to have a poor opinion of the modding scene.

Because of issues like this, it will be important for voice actors to raise their concerns, and for developers to navigate this new technology in a climate where regulations are yet to be mapped out.

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