Actor Stephen Fry’s voice was stolen from the Harry Potter audiobooks and restored with the help of AI
During his speech at the CogX Festival in London, the actor, who had recently visited Kyiv, played a file in front of the audience in which AI imitated his voice and narrated a historical documentary.
“I said not one word of that—it was a machine. Yes, it shocked me,” he said. “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.
Stephen Fry is a very famous reader. In addition to Harry Potter books, he has read English classical literature, and provided voice acting for LittleBigPlanet, Fable, and Birds of Steel games.
“What you heard was not the result of a mash up, this is from a flexible artificial voice, where the words are modulated to fit the meaning of each sentence. 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,” said Fry.
Fry added that when he discovered that his voice was being used without his consent, he saw it as just the beginning of a new threat to creative talent, warning his furious agents: “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
“We have to think about [AI] like the first automobile: impressive but not the finished article,” he said, noting that when cars were invented no one could have envisioned how widespread they are today.
“Tech is not a noun, it is a verb, it is always moving,” he said. “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. One thing we can all agree on: it’s a f***ing weird time to be alive.”