Memes and Misinformation – The Potential of Eleven Labs AI Voice Cloning – The Omaha News
Omaha News

Memes and Misinformation – The Potential of Eleven Labs AI Voice Cloning – The Omaha News

By: Jamie Harvey, Reporter

You might have seen them come across your TikTok feed or pop up in your YouTube recommendations–satirical videos featuring United States presidents playing video games with shockingly accurate voices. The creators of most of these videos use Instant Voice Cloning, an AI-powered tool offered by tech startup ElevenLabs. According to a company press release, the tool can accurately recreate someone’s voice based on a clip as short as five seconds.

UNO Computer Science Professor Victor Winter, Ph. D., said that machine learning (the type of artificial intelligence ElevenLabs uses) attempts to model the way the human brain works using a system called a neural network.

Unlike older AIs that run a complex set of calculations that human programmers can still follow, machine-learning AIs are more complex than humans can understand. Winter said that these already advanced tools will rapidly develop. “This technology  is advancing at the speed of light. I don’t know how else to say this, it is critical that everybody learn how to engage with this type of technology.”

A computer showing an AI generated video of President George W. Bush Jr. playing the video game Modern Warfare,  Mar. 4, 2023 (Photo/Jamie Harvey)

ElvenLabs touts their technology’s potential applications in film dubbing, enterprise automation, and accessibility programs. However, stories of the programs misuse have been making headlines.

The Omaha News searched the company’s Discord server and found at least one instance of someone using ElevenLabs to make it appear as if Joe Biden had said “racist stuff,” the user going on to say they “made the liberals angry lmao.”

ElevenLabs has responded to this issue by putting its voice cloning tool behind a paywall and is considering taking further action to crack down on the misuse of its tools.

The ElevenLabs interface, Mar. 5, 2023 (Photo/Jamie Harvey)

Professor of Media Communication Jeremy Lipschultz, Ph. D., said that whenever a new technology emerges, some people will find a way to use it productively, while others will use it to create misinformation. “It requires the user, the audience member, to exercise strong media literacy skills,” Lipschultz said.

But despite the downsides, Lipschultz and Winter both believe AI technology is the future.

“It cannot be overstated the impact this is going to have,” Winter said.

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