It should come as no surprise that a lot of voice actors tend to look at AI as a threat to the voiceover industry. Advances in artificial intelligence seem to be lead to a tendency to condemn the technology as a malevolent specter coming for our VO jobs. This is evidenced in many social media groups prevalent in our industry. As a self-professed geek who loves living on the edge of technology, I implore you to take some time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. AI for good, as a tool for humanity to use, not the other way around. While it's understandable to be cautious and maybe even somewhat nervous about what the future holds, the truth is, AI is making amazing, beneficial, and valuable things possible. I'd like to highlight just a few:
AI is fueled by deep learning algorithms that can analyze data and statistics in a fraction of the time it would take a team of doctors. To that effect, a group at Mount Sinai uses AI to predict the development of diseases with a 94% accuracy rate. That means patients benefit from advanced cancer identification thanks to an ocean of cancer research, clinical trials, and drug development data. Lives are being saved because AI can quickly sort data and develop models that help guide healthcare decisions. As a cancer survivor myself, I am grateful that this technology can be used to help diagnose and treat this horrific disease.
AI is also assisting radiologists by supporting routine tasks of reading and measurements in medical imaging. The Siemens Healthineers AI-Rad Companion is a set of innovative tools that are helping to alleviate some of the workloads of busy radiologists. These tools factor insights from pathology, lab work, imaging, and genetics for patients to help suggest next steps and lead to better prognoses and patient care based on data.
Serving People with Disabilities
There are many ways that AI can help serve people with disabilities by helping to communicate with others, and removing barriers through different solutions. For example, Image and Facial recognition can help for people with visual impairments. Lip-reading recognition and real-time captioning or translations can help people with hearing impairments. A person with a mental impairment can easily understand the world around him with text summarization.
VocaliD was founded with a strong social mission to create the first-ever custom voices for those that did not have a voice, creating diverse voices for everyone. According to their webpage, "Our mission is to create a more diverse, representative, and equitable world of AI-voice personas that honor, reflect, and uplift society." Make sure to check out my VO BOSS interview with Dr. Rupal Patel for more information on VocaliD.
“Your voice is your identity. We wouldn't dream of fitting a young girl with the prosthetic limb of a grown man. So why then the same prosthetic voice?" - Dr. Rupal Patel, Founder and CEO VocaliD
The birds and the bees
The World Bee Project is using AI to help save the bees! Globally, bees have been steadily declining for years, which is detrimental to our planet and our food supply. The World Bee Project is partnering with Oracle to gather data to help bees survive through the IoT (Internet of things) sensors, including cameras and microphones on hives. All of the data collected is uploaded to the Cloud and analyzed by AI to look for patterns. The findings are used to help predict where and when intervention may be necessary to save a colony. All the data analysis is shared worldwide in real-time, ensuring timely action to help save the bees!
In addition, a team from the University of Hawaii is coordinating an endangered seabird recovery project that used AI to analyze 600 hours of audio files to help understand the number of collisions between birds and powerlines. The University of Southern California uses AI-powered drones to spot poachers and locate endangered animals and then use that data to predict activity using game theory. Microsoft and Wild Me can recognize, log and track endangered animals by analyzing photos people upload to the Internet. All this conservation is made possible by using relatively inexpensive machine-learning tools.
Level the playing field
The Center for Data Science is using AI to help tackle the problem of inequality. Using open-source tool kits like the University of Chicago's Project Aequitas, IBM's AI Fairness 360, and Textio, employers can ensure job descriptions are more inclusive. More inclusive job descriptions helped one business grow its percentage of women recruits from just 10% to nearly 60%.
Also, Stanford is using AI to analyze satellite imagery to predict regions of poverty. That information can help influence where to send economic aid.
Similarly, AI can help end world hunger by analyzing millions of data points and then direct the perfect crop for a region or even help develop the ideal seed, maximize yields, and optimize herbicide application. Part of the AI for Sustainable Development Goals (AI4SDGs) Think Tank, the Nutrition Early Warning System (NEWS) uses machine learning and big data to locate areas with increased signs of risk for food shortages and rising food prices due to potential crop failures or drought.
The Future is now
There is no doubt AI is being used to better humanity, but what about the future? There are technologies in development that will allow AI and deep learning to benefit humanity in countless ways. For example, fully automated driving will increase passenger safety and optimize traffic flow. Natural language processing will generate the ability to align with natural human speaking and writing patterns. These models allow more accurate search results and virtual assistants. Quantum computing will let us break out of the binary-based computation world, which would supercharge AI applications.
AI has been in development for decades, but now it is starting to shine. With the sheer volume of data being collected daily, the only real way to take advantage of all that information is to use AI. Artificial intelligence is a tool society can use to make the world a better place, and if used for good, AI can help solve the world's most complicated problems in healthcare, climate change, transportation, and more.
Let's all step back and embrace the good.
For more information, make sure to check out my VO BOSS Podcast AI and Voice Series.
Much love and Keep on rockin' your voice and your biz!
About the Author: Anne Ganguzza is a full-time voice talent and award-winning director and producer who works with students to develop their voice over and business skills - including VO demo training and production. She specializes in Conversational Commercial and Narration styles, including Corporate, E-Learning, Technology, Healthcare - Medical, Telephony, and On-Hold. Located in Orange County, CA, Anne offers private coaching and mentoring services to students in person and via Skype, ipDTL or Zoom.