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  • Writer's pictureKasey Miracle

Why You Shouldn't Use AI Voices

Gollum hates it. Hates it forever.

I should probably start by admitting that I like

AI about as much as Gollum likes Tricksie Hobbitsis.


Honestly, I think AI can be a useful tool for many professionals. But I am against AI being used as a replacement. Don’t worry, I’m going to give you real reasons why you should choose a human voice actor over an artificial one. Instead of just recommending you don't do it.


The Good.

AI as a tool helping humans.

First, I will admit that AI has one good thing going for it. Beyond being cheap and fast. It can be used to create artificial voices that can read to members of the blind community, people with vision impairments or disabilities, or those with learning disabilities. And though voice actors have been filling this role in regard to audiobooks, audio descriptions, audio tours, and voice acting in general, it’s simply impossible to read every single item someone may need to be read. AI could, for example, read a newspaper every morning to someone who is in this community. As someone whose son has a hard time reading, I can understand and appreciate how this could help that specific community. If screen reader and page reader apps was all AI Voices were being used for and if all voice actors used to create those voices were paid fair compensation, gave their consent, and had control over what content those voices could read, then it wouldn’t be a problem.


The Bad.

Bad parties may steal voices from voice actors.

But the AI voice companies haven’t stopped there. Some of them have outright stolen the voices of voice actors. Those voices are then cloned and used to create a replacement for that voice actor (or at least a creation that is now competing for jobs). Sometimes the voice is cloned so the company can now read things without having to pay the voice actor, or use that voice to say and do things that may be distasteful or downright illegal.  In the vein of being honest I will admit that I know of quite a few AI Voice companies that ARE trying to create their clones the correct way. But the others exist as well. And there’s no protection from them. This problem goes away once the law catches up to the technology and forces malicious or misinformed companies to get

  • the Consent of voice actors,

  • allow them to Control what their voice is being used for

  • and then Compensate them fairly for whatever work that AI may do.

AI replacing human jobs.

So, let’s say this perfect world comes to pass. No one's voice is used without Consent, Compensation, and Control. Should you then have an AI voice in your video game or YouTube explainer video ? What about your audiobook? Your corporate narration? Your commercial? I’m going to obviously say, no. But there’s good reasons for this.


First, let me ask you a few questions. How often have you sat on hold with a robotic voice telling you, “Someone will take your call momentarily.” How often have you heard a robotic voice come over the speakers in a store to make an announcement and you’ve turned to whoever you are shopping with and said, “What did they say?” How often have you missed your turn because you weren’t paying attention to your GPS?


Is that how you want your clients to feel about your product?


At the end of the day, the truth is that we’ve been trained to tune out robotic voices, no matter how good they are, due to time spent (sometimes hours) on hold waiting desperately to talk to a human. This is why GPS now gives an alert noise when you use it. To try to get your attention.


Your product deserves to capture your audience’s attention and keep it. Not have them tune out.


But I hear you. Is there science to back up your claims that humans don’t connect with AI voices, you ask?


BEHOLD THE SCIENCE!



“Comparing the electrophysiological data of the participants’ EEG while listening to different newscast agents revealed that brain activity responses were greater when listening to a human newscast than to an AI voice newscast. And β bands in left posterior temporal lobe were significantly different, suggesting that participants’ brain were better at processing, comprehending auditory information, and storing working memory when listening to a human reporter than when listening to a voice generated by AI. Moreover, the ERP results and the interaction effect of content valence and agent voice demonstrated that the human voice generated greater cognitive effect, which may reflect participants’ trust in the credibility and fluency of the human voice news.”



But that’s not all! Studies have been finding that more and more people PREFER human created content AND companies that promote that content.


“86% of consumers prefer to interact with a human agent; 71% said they would be less likely to use a brand if it didn’t have human customer service representatives available; “ Read more here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/gilpress/2019/10/02/ai-stats-news-86-of-consumers-prefer-to-interact-with-a-human-agent-rather-than-a-chatbot/?sh=7313959d2d3b


And this study done on AI art found that, “people tend to be negatively biased against AI-created artworks relative to purportedly human-created artwork, and suggest that knowledge of human engagement in the artistic process contributes positively to appraisals of art.” Read more here: https://cognitiveresearchjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s41235-023-00499-6


What does that all mean? It means not only do humans prefer listening to humans, but that they really do want to support their fellow humans. At the end of the day, we want to be a community. That’s why there’s such a growing support for indie creatives, after all!


Humans supporting humans.

Humans also place value on the story behind something. What’s more interesting to you? A painting of a young woman made by an AI that was programmed to make paintings. Or the painting of a young woman by the man who was in love with her but never had the courage to tell her because he feared she would reject him? We want the story! We want to connect to our world, to others, to our art!



My final argument and then I’ll leave my soap box.


If an AI actor had performed as Han Solo, the audience would have been left with the preprogrammed line, “I love you, too.” It is because Harrison Ford, a human in the moment, made a decision he felt worked better as the character, that we have the iconic, “I know.” AI, no matter how well it’s programmed, will never be able to replicate that instinct.


Han Solo says, "I know."

For my authors and audiobook narrators, I recommend this further reading: https://www.washingtonpost.com/books/2023/08/17/audiobooks-artificial-intelligence/


What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below. And remember to stay creative.

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