Realistic AI Clones are Here

May 14, 2021

Is this the future of our now ubiquitous Zoom meetings? PetaPixel tells us that “AI Can Now Turn You Into a Fully Digital, Realistic Talking Clone.” Startup Hour One’ technology can create one’s digital clone and put words in its mouth. The article shares a clip of an example avatar, that of YouTube personality Taryn Southern. Southern only had to speak and sing for about seven minutes in front of a green screen to establish the AI clone, which was then fed a script by Hour One. The result is convincing. We do note it seems that, at least so far, the clone must sit still and squarely face the “camera.” Curious readers can see more examples on the company’s website. We see how this could be useful, if only to stay in pajamas while one’s clone took virtual meetings, but what could bad actors do with the tech? Reporter Jaron Schneider writes:

“Hundreds of videos can be generated in a matter of minutes just by submitting text to the platform. A creator would not need to record any audio at all. On the plus side, it doesn’t look like it would be possible to create an AI person without this studio time, but it also means that it would theoretically be possible to obtain the AI version of Southern and input any texts into the program which the AI would read as though it were her. The ramifications of that are daunting. Still, Hour One argues that the benefits of its technologies outweigh the possible downsides. The company claims that with this technology, content creators will see a drastic reduction in the time and cost of video production to a matter of minutes. Additionally, a video can be created without a time-intensive routine to look presentable for the camera (AI Taryn jokes that she can now create new YouTube videos ‘without the real Taryn having to shower or leave her bed.’). Additionally, any AI clone can speak multiple languages which allow for greater distribution of content to more people around the world.”

The company admits the approach will work for some formats, like news broadcasts, better than for others, like stand-up comedy. Schneider cautions readers not to confuse this tool with deep fakes, which overlay someone’s face over existing footage. Hour One’s tech goes beyond that to create completely new content. Founded in 2019, the company is based in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Cynthia Murrell, May 14, 2021

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