Streamer Brings Attention to Growing AI Voice Problem

Twitch streamer Genna Bain, spouse of the late great TotalBiscuit, recently voiced concerns that his voice has been used to train AI models. 

John Bain, or TotalBiscuit as he was known in the gaming community, will forever go down as one of the best content creators and gaming personalities, critics, and commentators of all time. Largely known for his role in professional esports, including coverage for games like World of Warcraft and Starcraft 2, Bain sadly passed away from cancer in 2018. 

Recently, Genna Bain posted on Twitter,

“Today was fun. Being faced with making a choice of scrubbing all of my late husband’s lifetime of content from the internet. Apparently people think it’s okay to use his library to train voice AIs to promote their social commentary and political views.”

As one of the most iconic voices in gaming, it’s sad to see that his voice is now being used for political and social commentary, something Bain himself often veered away from — preferring to concentrate on gaming content instead. 

Who Owns a Voice?

This question is sadly a bit more complex than you’d think. At least in the United States, there are different laws depending on where you live — ranging from stronger protection laws and less stringent ones, according to a Forbes article that tackles the use of James Earl Jone’s voice as Darth Vader (the actor sold the rights to his voice). This is also very specific to the United States — though other countries, including the UK, have been working on better regulating the use of AI.

Without much clarity on a national or international level, it’s up to the AI voice model providers to police nefarious users. While many text-to-speech AI voice companies have terms of service that restrict people from uploading other people’s voices to train models, it’s clear it doesn’t always work — as in this case.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, either. According to reporting from Kotaku, famous voice actors like Steven Blum (Spike from Cowboy Bebop) are also having their voices stolen and used without permission. Sadly, it will likely be left to regulators or courts to impose more powerful deterrents as more people’s voices are used against their will. 

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