The Morning After: Microsoft's VALL-E AI can replicate a voice from a three-second sample

It can even preserve the speaker's 'emotion and acoustic environment.'

HJBC via Getty Images

Microsoft’s latest research in text-to-speech AI centers on a new AI model, VALL-E. While there are already multiple services that can create copies of your voice, they usually demand substantial input. Microsoft claims its model can simulate someone's voice from just a three-second audio sample. The speech can match both the timbre and emotional tone of the speaker – even the acoustics of a room. It could one day be used for customized or high-end text-to-speech applications, but like deepfakes, there are risks of misuse.

Researchers trained VALL-E on 60,000 hours of English language speech from 7,000-plus speakers in Meta's Libri-Light audio library. The results aren’t perfect: Some are tinny machine-like samples, while others are surprisingly realistic.

Microsoft isn’t making the code open source, possibly due to the inherent risks. In the paper, the company said: "Since VALL-E could synthesize speech that maintains speaker identity, it may carry potential risks in misuse of the model, such as spoofing voice identification or impersonating."

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