After the reveal in a demo at the Max Conference in San Diego last week, Adobe’s Project VoCo audio (voice manipulation software) has been at the helm of some concern over its potential for misuse in many different aspects.
So What Is Project VoCo?
Well project VoCo dubbed the “Photoshop of speech” is an audio editing program that enables you to edit speech as easily as you can text or pictures in word or photoshop. Amazing right?
How Does It Work?
The program needs roughly 20 minutes of voice samples from an individual. These samples are then broken down by the program into phonemes which are the smallest units of sound in speech. These phonemes are then transcribed, and the voice model is then created. Quite slick. But its potential for misuse is colossal!
What’s The Problem?
The problem with project VoCo that has caused the spark of concern is that the program is so flexible that it could be misused. Let’s face facts here, there is surely someone out there who would use this for their own dark intentions. For example, VoCo allows you to use the same voice model to create completely new recordings. In other words, you can take a recording of a person’s voice and make a new version from it that includes words and phrases the original speaker never used.
Critics have therefore said that project VoCo has the potential to destroy trust in journalism or even pose big security threats to banks (like the recent Tesco Bank cyber-attack) or other such services. Other critics have suggested that the developers of the program had somehow missed or blatantly ignored the ethical dilemmas that are involved in creating a voice manipulator of this kind.
Some of the main concerns about the extent of the capabilities and availability of the program include that:
• It could mean that digital media may therefore not be able to be used e.g. by lawyers and journalists, because of doubts about authenticity.
• It could be used to fool bank security systems where voiceprint verification is being used for customers who phone in.
• This can also destroy any trust in voice recognition systems used elsewhere on different devices.
No Ship Date No Release Date Announced.
Right now, just the demo of project VoCo has been shown to the world, and although Adobe are standing by their product and still confident about the many positive benefits that it could bring despite concerns, no release date has been announced for it and the shipping date is not imminent.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
As a product that can be used by businesses, VoCo could be a very powerful, useful and time saving tool when used to fix podcasts, create marketing communications, or even to fix audio book recordings.
Business owners also have the right to feel nervous about how the program could be used in a malicious way e.g. by criminals are part of cyber fraud /cyber-attack on the business or on the bank that the business uses.
At present, the Biometrics companies (who are now being used by banks) are re-assuring people by saying that their systems would not be fooled by VoCo. Research is also under way to find a way to enable detection of the use of the software e.g. by some kind of watermark.