AI revolutionises audiobooks, threatening human narrators’ livelihoods

1684030538 AI revolutionises audiobooks threatening human narrators livelihoods
AI revolutionises audiobooks, threatening human narrators livelihoods.
AI revolutionises audiobooks, threatening human narrators’ livelihoods.

The audiobook industry is being transformed by artificial intelligence (AI) technology, which can provide human-like recordings quickly and at a lower cost than human narrators. This development has led to a decline in business for many voice actors and narrators, some of whom have seen their workloads cut in half.

One of the pioneers of AI-assisted audiobooks is DeepZen, which created a database of recorded voices from various actors speaking in different emotional tones. While DeepZen and similar companies adhere to ethical practices and pay voice actors royalties for their voices used, there are concerns about unethical practices in the industry, where some companies illegally exploit unlicensed voice databases.

The largest US audiobook publishers, such as Audible, have also begun incorporating AI generative technology into their production processes. This new technology can create texts, images, videos, and voices without human intervention. The goal is to create greater accessibility for independent authors and small publishers, allowing those who couldn’t afford a human narrator to produce audiobooks at a lower cost, thus, increasing the market potential.

While AI offers benefits in terms of cost reduction and accessibility, critics argue that storytelling should remain a human activity. AI-generated recordings are often accused of lacking emotional depth compared to human performances. There is a concern that people will eventually prefer machine-generated versions, gradually replacing human narrations over time. To avoid this concern voiced by industry professionals, there is a call for companies to be transparent in disclosing when AI-generated pieces are being used.

Despite these concerns, some in the industry believe that the growing audiobook market will benefit both AI and human voice actors, leading to more opportunities and recordings. They argue that AI technology can help convert more books into audio format, benefiting voice actors financially. However, transparency and disclosure regarding AI-generated content are seen as crucial in maintaining ethical practices and to instil confidence via a clear distinction between human-narrated audiobooks and AI-generated content.