Stephen Fry Warns Against AI After His Voice Was ‘Stolen’ From Harry Potter Audiobooks
Here's why some people insist AI needs to be regulated.
The SAG-AFTRA strike began on July 14. For the first time in 63 years, approximately 160,000 film, television, and radio actors completely stopped working: not only are they not filming for their projects, but they're not promoting them either.
Union members are demanding a pay raise, increased residuals from streaming services, improved working conditions, and protection against the use of artificial intelligence in the industry. While the former several demands are straightforward and require no further explanation, artificial intelligence remains a gray area in both legal and public understanding.
Stephen Fry Weighs In
To shed some light on the issue and its gravity, Stephen Fry spoke at the CogX festival in London last week, discussing his experience as a victim of non-consensual AI-based cloning.
‘I’m a proud member of [SAG-AFTRA]. As you know, we’ve been on strike for three months now. And one of the burning issues is AI,’ the iconic actor began by saying.
Fry followed that by playing a video of a historical documentary narrated by a digitally generated voice that sounded remarkably like his own.
‘I said not one word of that—it was a machine. Yes, it shocked me,’ the actor remarked. ‘They used my reading of the seven volumes of the Harry Potter books, and from that dataset an AI of my voice was created, and it made that new narration.’
The actor and author explained that in this and many other instances, his distinctive voice has been used without his consent or awareness and without any form of compensation. What troubles him most, however, is the potential threat posed by advancing technology.
‘It could therefore have me read anything from a call to storm Parliament to hard porn, all without my knowledge and without my permission,’ he said. ‘This is audio. It won’t be long until full deepfake videos are just as convincing.’
Strong Regulations Needed
Stephen Fry's experience illustrates why SAG-AFTRA is calling for robust regulations on any digital cloning, whether of an actor's voice or appearance. Union leaders and members agree that as AI technology progresses, it's crucial to establish clear guidelines and safeguards for creative professionals.
It's undeniable that the challenges presented by AI in various creative industries will only increase in the future. If the current situation remains unchanged, it may soon be impossible to distinguish between authentic and fake content. Unless measures are taken now, the situation can quickly spiral out of control.