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AI Is Being Used To Ruin Audiobooks Now

Oh look, another enjoyable thing being destroyed!

A woman frowns, pulling one side of her headphones away from her ear.

For those of us who enjoy a good audiobook, it looks like, as with literally everything else, AI technology will ruin it sooner rather than later.

An artist named Jonas Jödicke shared a story on Twitter recently, relaying the experience of his friend who works in the audiobook field. “My friend who works for a company selling audiobooks just told me that their boss is replacing almost all their voice actors with Ai software that costs them 20$ a month,” Jödicke wrote, adding, “If lawmakers don’t regulate this tech immediately the damage to entire industries will be immeasurable.”

This is hardly a surprise though. The current Writers Guild of America strike is happening in part because of AI, and news outlets have been citing plans to experiment with AI in recent rounds of journalism layoffs. Insider recently announced that they had gotten rid of 10% of their staff and started to experiment with AI in their newsroom. BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti made similar comments after announcing the shuttering of BuzzFeed News.

Tech journalist Shubham Agarwal revealed in February that Apple had been using a Spotify-owned audiobook library to train its algorithm secretly for THREE years, using authors’ and narrators’ work to train its system.

As someone who enjoys audiobooks and is often picky because I want to actually like the experience and not be irritated by whoever’s voice I’m listening to, this is actually really upsetting. I want to listen to a human read to me. Not a robot that. sounds. like. this. (I also don’t want to support technology that steals artists’ own work in order to learn to replace them!)

The idea that AI could take over in an industry that is already struggling, and has struggled for years, is disheartening. Voice actors, journalists, these industries in general, and their consumers deserve so much better.

(featured image: Elisaveta Ivanova/Getty Images)

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Brooke Pollock is a UK-based entertainment journalist who talks incessantly about her thoughts on pop culture. She can often be found with her headphones on listening to an array of music, scrolling through social media, at the cinema with a large popcorn, or laying in bed as she binges the latest TV releases. She has almost a year of experience and her core beat is digital culture.