AI could soon clone your voice

It probably sings better than you, too.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou

Cloned voice frequency.

Screenshot by Marrian Zhou/CNET

AI can clone your voice and it's pretty accurate.

Last month, Ashlee Vance of Bloomberg interviewed the founders of Lyrebird, a Montreal-based AI company. Lyrebird  aims to "create the most realistic artificial voices in the world," according to its website. 

The company's software recorded Vance's voice and cloned it within minutes. The AI version was so realistic that Vance's mother didn't realize she was talking to a computer rather than her son when Vance phoned her.

Lyrebird's technology has already been used to help people, including Pat Quinn, the founder of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Quinn suffers from ALS, or motor neurone disease, which eventually took his voice. Lyrebird used video clips of Quinn's speeches to replace the text-to-speech robotic voice he had previously used to communicate. 

Still, cloning voices raises the prospect of potential misuse of the technology. Vance used Lyrebird to impersonate President Donald Trump with an artificial voice, raising the possibility of digital mayhem.

"We want our technology to be used for positive things," Jose Sotelo, co-founder of Lyrebird, said in the video. "It's not something that we should be afraid of. It's something that we should be careful about and enthusiastic about."

Lyrebird didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.