Move over, Siri: Apple’s new audiobook AI voice sounds human
Apple has rolled out a new feature in its Apple Books app – AI Narrators. In addition to real people narrating audiobooks, the app now offers the option to have your books read to you by digital voices that sound like human narrators.
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
AI is the simulation by computer systems of human intelligence processes, including learning, reasoning, and self-correction. AI technologies have been developed and used in a variety of applications, including natural language processing, as Apple is doing, robotics, and expert systems for various industries and purposes.
Why does Apple use AI to describe voices?
Apple decided to take this step to give smaller publishers and lesser-known authors the chance to narrate books on the platform. Audiobooks are a platform for great novels and publishing companies that have the budget to produce them.
The company has been reaching out to independent publishers over the past several months to offer them the opportunity to have their audiobooks read by these AI narrators. The agreement was that they would pay the cost of digital recordings up front, but pay the writers royalties on sales, and some publishers agreed.
With the addition of this new feature, more publishers will have the opportunity to get their books available, and readers will have access to a greater range of content.
Is there a downside to having AI narrators?
The first and biggest argument against AI narration is that some people worry that it could leave the use of human narrators behind. Audiobook narration has become a big business for voiceover artists and actors, especially since the pandemic began.
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However, since it costs more and takes longer to create an audiobook with a human narrator, Apple and other big tech companies may start using AI.
This will depend on how the AI-generated voice speaks to them, as many people still prefer to hear a human narrator live.
Another argument is the perception of low quality control. Considering how much time and money it takes to make audiobooks, it’s always safe to assume that some of them are excellent.
However, with the use of AI narration, that time and money are no longer a concern, and any book (whether it’s good or bad) can be made into an audiobook.
This is great for publishers who want to publish their books and don’t have the means to do so. However, this may take away the special status of a literary work that is “good enough” to be produced as an audiobook.