We somehow got used to the fact that most images are "photoshopped" and no longer rely on them as depiction of reality. What if the same would happen to sound? Adobe, the company behind Photoshop, announced Project VoCo, a voice editing software.
At this year's MAX Conference a demo of VoCo Project, developed by Adobe together with Princeton University, was presented to the public. They showed how you can import a voice recording to the program and work as if it was a text editor. The system is able to identify the words in the clip and mimic a person's voice to create words that were never spoken. Of course, the more text need to be "reimagined" the less convincing the remake becomes. But if it's just one word to change, you wouldn't even notice the tweak.
Adobe aims at entertainment industry: "Wouldn’t you love the option to edit or insert a few words without the hassle of recreating the recording environment or bringing the voiceover artist in for another session?" they advertise the software. However, the "sound Photoshop" may be used for other purposes too and that's where it gets a bit frightening. Journalists rely on voice recordings for their interviews, what if that becomes useless? Imagine a PR agency that quickly erases or replaces all the unwanted words in their client's speech.
You may say we'll just get used to it as we did with photos, and that's partially true. The difference is in the learning curve. While mastering Photoshop takes a lot of time and effort, VoCo would be as easy to use as any text editor. "Its user interface is literally just words, which you can delete and re-type. All skill has been removed from the equation, while algorithms work behind the scenes to make your wildest dreams come true" comments Mark Wilson on Fast Company website. We might need to reconsider the term "free speech".
Source: Fast Company