– It will hit us right on the nose – NRK Norway – An overview of news from different parts of the country

– It will hit us right on the nose – NRK Norway – An overview of news from different parts of the country

Recently, Swedish company Storytel introduced AI-generated voices for 25 different versions.

Storytel makes listening to audiobooks more personal, she says Press release.

“More Personal” is delivered through five new AI voices that audiobook listeners can choose from when listening to one of the respective editions:

  • Karina – A slightly more mature female voice with calm speech
  • Amanda – A younger female voice with more energy
  • Eric – A soft, slightly deeper male voice
  • Martin – A middle-aged male voice described as sincere
  • Steven – AI-generated version of actor Stefan Suk's voice – powerful and dramatic voice

89 percent of Swedish Storytel customers finish a book because they don't like the voice reading it.

– This is a problem we want to solve by offering several free votes for the same book, explains production manager Johan Stahl at Swedish Storytel.

Said: Product Manager Johan Stahl at Swedish Storytel. The image was not generated by artificial intelligence.

Photo: Mathias Pardo

Sounds were developed in cooperation Between Storytel and KI Eleven laboratories. The latter is based in the United States and is a global leader in producing artificial intelligence voices.

– With the new function, listeners can seamlessly switch between different sounds and choose their favorite sounds, says Ståhle.

Storytel has previously released AI voices in English and Polish.

Listen to actor Stefan Suk read “1986” by Jesper Ersgård. This is an actual recording of Sook's voice.

Video: Storytel

Listen to the AI ​​version of actor Stefan Suk reading “1986” by Jesper Ersgaard. This is an AI-generated version of Sauk's voice.

Video: Storytel

Can you hear the difference between AI voice and real voice?

9 out of 10 didn't hear a difference

When Storytel surveyed a smaller sample of listeners, 9 out of 10 said they couldn't tell the difference between real and artificial voices.

People are amazed at how good the quality is, and how difficult it is to hear the difference between the AI ​​voice and the real thing, says Stahl, who says the feedback has been very positive.

– However, you can hear the difference. Stahl says the human voice is often more dramatic and adds more interpretation to the text to make it its own.

Currently, the audiobook company has no plans to expand AI voices to the Norwegian market, but is considering it in Denmark.

Are you listening to an audio book read by KI?

Right in the face

But not everyone is as positive about the new development as Storytel's product manager.

-I'm definitely worried about Kei.

says voice actor Ivar Neergaard. He has lent his voice to countless roles and audio book recordings for over 25 years.

– He says: – In the past two years, audiobooks have made up the lion's share of my income.

Now Neergaard wonders if his livelihood will soon disappear.

Ivar Nergaard

Fear of the future: Actor Ivar Neergaard in his studio. Here he often records audiobooks.

Photography: Aida Kharami/NRK

– He says: – I know for sure, based on what happened in other countries, that it will hit us directly.

He's heard some noises himself and thinks they're getting frighteningly good.

-I'm sure it's not the worst. But it's a bit flat, and a bit boring.

– In Norwegian, I currently think that AI is not keeping us up to date with emotional registration and intonation, says the voice actor.

He also points out that in Norway we have a very large number of unique dialects that are difficult for a machine to imitate.

-But they will definitely fix it, I have no doubt about that.

-So it's hidden, simple as that.

Doesn't rule out KI votes in Norway

However, at the moment, there are no such plans in Norway, according to the director of the Norwegian company Storytel:

– Our experience is that Norwegian listeners are very satisfied with the many good and diverse voices that represent reading Norwegian literature today, says Ole Viering.

Ole Weering, Director of Norwegian company Storytel

No Norwegian plans: For now, there will be no AI voices for Norwegian Storytel audiobooks, says Ole Werring.

Photo: Ihn Pedersen/Amedia

– So we don't see a need now to replace good Norwegian sounds with artificial ones, he says.

but:

– It would be a bit silly of me to rule out anything about something that will happen in the future.

However, Wareing stresses that he sees no signs of that now.

– No, there are no plans now. We have also not received any inquiries indicating that there is something going on in the Norwegian market today.

It should not replace people

Ståhle in Swedish Storytel believes that voice actors and narrators need not fear for their jobs. At least not yet.

-Our popular lecturers are there for a reason. They make wonderful interpretations of the books they have read. It's very important to us and very important to our customers.

Soft and deep: This is how Storytel describes the voice of the AI ​​”Erik”.

Video: Storytel

Ståhle believes that AI voices should initially live alongside human voices.

– AI voices will likely live alongside human narrators in the future, but I don't think they will replace them.

He believes that the question of whether AI voices will become dominant in the future is up to the customers themselves.

– Quality and feedback from our customers will govern this development. The most important thing is that our customers have a good experience.

Mature and calm: This is how Storytel describes Karen's AI voice.

Video: Storytel

– Will Storytel have fewer human voices in the future?

I do not believe. Instead, I think we will use AI voices to create greater breadth in audiobook selection. Today, setting up a sound box production is very expensive. Using AI voices, I believe we can create a larger and broader catalog of audiobooks which is not possible today.

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Hanisi Anenih

Hanisi Anenih

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