Actor Stephen Fry, the British voice behind the “Harry Potter” audiobook series, revealed that artificial intelligence was used to mimic his distinct accent for a documentary that he knew nothing about.
“I said not one word of that — it was a machine. Yes, it shocked me,” said Fry, who has narrated more than 100 hours of the beloved JK Rowling series.
“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,”
Fry played a snippet of the AI-generated audio and warned of the dangers posed by the technology at the CogX Festival in London last week, according to Fortune.
“What you heard was not the result of a mashup. This is from a flexible artificial voice, where the words are modulated to fit the meaning of each sentence,” Fry said.
“It could therefore have me read anything from a call to storm Parliament to hard porn, all without my knowledge and without my permission. And this, what you just heard, was done without my knowledge. So I heard about this, I sent it to my agents on both sides of the Atlantic, and they went ballistic — they had no idea such a thing was possible.”
The growing presence of AI has become a major issue in the ongoing writers strike that has shut down Hollywood.
Though Fry didn’t disclose whether he would press charges against the unidentified companies behind the AI, he warned that the audio clip goes to show that “it won’t be long until full deepfake videos are just as convincing.”
“Tech is not a noun, it is a verb, it is always moving. What we have now is not what will be. When it comes to AI models, what we have now will advance at a faster rate than any technology we have ever seen,” he said.
“One thing we can all agree on: It’s a f–king weird time to be alive.”
Deepfake technology — which swaps a person in an image or video with another’s likeness — is already in use and fooling people, according to a recent study.
Last month, the University College London used a text-to-speech algorithm trained on two publicly available datasets to create 50 deepfake speech samples in English and Mandarin.
The samples were played for 529 study participants who tried to decipher the real voices from the fake ones.
Participants were only able to identify fake speech 73% of the time — one in four times — which improved slightly only after they received training on how to recognize deepfake voices.
In addition, X-rated celebrity deepfakes are in heavy circulation online despite Twitter/X’s policies against media and non-consensual nudity.
Most of these reality-bending videos eventually get yanked from the platform, but not before racking up tens of millions of views.
One snippet that gained traction on X back in June showed 22-year-old influencer Addison Rae Easterling’s face on the body of another woman laying on a bed seductively.
Before the accountholder deleted the tweet following a flurry of outrage, it had been viewed more than 21 million times, and the thread featured further explicit content of the deepfake.
Earlier this year, the likeness of actresses Emma Roberts and Scarlett Johansson were also used in a sexually suggestive advert for deepfake software, which was later removed by Facebook.
Meanwhile, a Texas teacher was the victim of digitally altered nude photos.
Deepfake content has also found its way into politics, forcing Google to require “all verified election advertisers” to “prominently disclose” when their ads use AI amid the growing threat of misinformation posed by the exploding technology.
Google’s decision comes as other major AI firms warned the technology can be used to undermine elections.
A deepfake image of Donald Trump resisting arrest and of his wife Melania yelling at police already went viral.
Another recently-deployed deepfake showed Trump hugging Dr. Anthony Fauci during the COVID-19 pandemic in an AI-produced campaign ad by GOP presidential nominee rival Ron DeSantis.
President Joe Biden has also been the target of several ads using AI, including one by the Republican National Committee in April that showed him celebrating with Vice President Kamala Harris after winning reelection to a second term.
The 30-second clip showed a jovial Biden and Harris, then cut to harrowing scenes of China invading Taiwan, shuttered US banks and cities overrun by crime.