Microsoft launches a deepfakes creator at Ignite 2023 occasion


One of many extra surprising merchandise to launch out of the Microsoft Ignite 2023 occasion is a instrument that may create a photorealistic avatar of an individual and animate that avatar saying issues that the individual didn’t essentially say.

Referred to as Azure AI Speech textual content to speech avatar, the brand new function, out there in public preview as of as we speak, lets customers generate movies of an avatar talking by importing photographs of an individual they need the avatar to resemble and writing a script. Microsoft’s instrument trains a mannequin to drive the animation, whereas a separate text-to-speech mannequin — both prebuilt or skilled on the individual’s voice — “reads” the script aloud.

“With textual content to speech avatar, customers can extra effectively create video … to construct coaching movies, product introductions, buyer testimonials [and so on] merely with textual content enter,” writes Microsoft in a weblog publish. “You should use the avatar to construct conversational brokers, digital assistants, chatbots and extra.”

Avatars can converse in a number of languages. And, for chatbot eventualities, they’ll faucet AI fashions like OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 to answer off-script questions from prospects.

Now, there are numerous methods such a instrument might be abused — which Microsoft to its credit score realizes. (Related avatar-generating tech from AI startup Synthesia has been misused to supply propaganda in Venezuela and false information stories promoted by pro-China social media accounts.) Most Azure subscribers will solely have the ability to entry prebuilt — not customized — avatars at launch; customized avatars are at present a “restricted entry” functionality out there by registration solely and “just for sure use circumstances,” Microsoft says.

However the function raises a number of uncomfortable moral questions.

One of many main sticking factors within the current SAG-AFTRA strike was using AI to create digital likenesses. Studios in the end agreed to pay actors for his or her AI-generated likenesses. However what about Microsoft and its prospects?

I requested Microsoft its place on firms utilizing actors’ likenesses with out, within the actors’ views, correct compensation and even notification. The corporate didn’t reply — nor did it say whether or not it will require that firms label avatars as AI-generated, like YouTube and a rising quantity of different platforms.

Private voice

Microsoft seems to have extra guardrails round a associated generative AI instrument, private voice, that’s additionally launching at Ignite.

Private voice, a brand new functionality inside Microsoft’s customized neural voice service, can replicate a person’s voice in just a few seconds offered a one-minute speech pattern as an audio immediate. Microsoft pitches it as a solution to create personalised voice assistants, dub content material into completely different languages and generate bespoke narrations for tales, audio books and podcasts.

To push back potential authorized complications, Microsoft’s requiring that customers give “specific consent” within the type of a recorded assertion earlier than a buyer can use private voice to synthesize their voices. Entry to the function is gated behind a registration type in the meanwhile, and prospects should agree to make use of private voice solely in purposes “the place the voice doesn’t learn user-generated or open-ended content material.”

“Voice mannequin utilization should stay inside an utility and output should not be publishable or shareable from the applying,” Microsoft writes in a weblog publish. “[C]ustomers who meet restricted entry eligibility standards preserve sole management over the creation of, entry to and use of the voice fashions and their output [where it concerns] dubbing for movies, TV, video and audio for leisure eventualities solely.”

Microsoft didn’t reply TechCrunch’s questions on how actors is likely to be compensated for his or her private voice contributions — or whether or not it plans to implement any form of watermarking tech in order that AI-generated voices is likely to be extra simply recognized.

For extra Microsoft Ignite 2023 protection:

This story was initially printed at 8am PT on Nov. 15 and up to date at 3:30pm PT.


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