Apple (AAPL) recently released a new feature for its iPhone and iPad designed to make life easier for people with disabilities. This feature, called Personal Voice, will enable Apple devices to replicate your voice.
To initiate this feature, iPhone users need to read a series of prompts out loud and allow the software to record them speaking. Within 15 minutes, the technology is reportedly able to “synthesize” the user’s voice.
Apple also announced a complementary feature called Live Speech, which can use your synthesized voice to read typed text out loud during phone calls, FaceTime, or in-person conversations. Both features are expected to be available by the end of the year.
Personal Voice is intended to make life easier for people who struggle to speak. A number of brain and neurological disabilities can lead to speech disorders that make it very difficult to hold phone or in-person conversations. With Personal Voice, your iPhone can do the speaking for you.
“Text-to-speech” technology has been around for decades. But this software often uses a distinctly robotic-sounding voice to speak written text out loud. Apple aims to take this tech one step further by personalizing the synthesized voice to make your phone sound just like you.
Raising Red Flags
These tools may be designed to meet a genuine need. But Personal Voice and Live Speech are generating outcry too.
Apple’s announcement comes at a time when artificial intelligence and deepfake videos are becoming more prevalent — and, to some, a major concern. As the emerging technology rapidly improves, hackers are able to run increasingly convincing scams using someone else’s voice or likeness.
While Personal Voice and Live Speech offer potential helpful solutions, they could become a weapon of hackers. As is often true of new technological advancements, they may introduce users to game-changing benefits, as well as unexpected consequences.
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