How far will this go?
Book publishers are reaching beyond these days, enlisting the help of celebrities to narrate their audiobooks.
Digital publishers such as Apple and Google are using generative AI technology to tap into famous deceased people and use their voices to narrate audiobooks.
It features the late actor Edward Herrmann, often typecast as an Ivy League-educated aristocrat in films such as Overboard, Richie Rich, The Paper Chase, and Eleanor and Franklin.
Herrmann, who passed away on New Year’s Eve 2014, also narrated dozens of audiobooks.
“Mr. Herrmann’s latest (audiobook) work was produced by DeepZen Ltd., a London-based company that was granted access to the actor’s past recordings with his family’s permission. It is an artificial intelligence startup that The Wall Street Journal reported on April 6th.“From that treasure, DeepZen said it could generate any sound and intonation Mr. Herrmann would have used had he been narrating these new books himself.”
Playing audiobook voices out of the dead is largely the domain of British AI company DeepZen, Ltd.
DeepZen works with the families of deceased audiobook narrators like Herrmann to get permission to use their voices, and once the go-ahead is given, DeepZen and AI take over from there. The company uses historical audiobook recordings from which it can emulate the voice, tone, and rhythm of an actor who died about ten years ago.
“I felt it was a great way to carry on his legacy,” the late actor’s son Rory Herman said in a comment to The Journal.
It was “amazing” for Herrmann to hear his father’s AI-generated voice speak the book from beyond the grave.
“It’s a great moment,” he said.
So far, Apple and Google are already using AI to narrate audiobook titles, but relying on deceased people for it is a whole new phenomenon.
DeepZen is reportedly working on a deal to handle other dead celebrity audiobook narration needs, The Journal reports.
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