Computers are back at it again, easing our lives while creating moral quandaries quicker than we can (ironically) process. 2023, it seems, is the year in which we contend with the rise of AI, as evidenced by the ongoing Writer's Guild of America strike, and now the voice-acting community finds itself at something of a digital crossroads.
Erica Lindbeck portrays the English voice of fan-favourite character Futaba Sakura in Persona 5 (and will reprise the role in Tactica), along with dozens of others across gaming and anime. A video surfaced online earlier this week in which an AI-generated depiction of Futaba's (Lindbeck's) voice sings Bo Burnham's bleak little ditty, "Welcome to the Internet".
Lindbeck asked for the video to be removed, and the original poster kindly acquiesced, deleting it from YouTube. This being the internet, however, dozens more accounts reposted it. Then Lindbeck, for her reasonable request, was harassed by other Twitter users to such an extent she eventually closed her account entirely.
Josh Keaton, AKA Spectacular Spider-Man, and MGS3 Revolver Ocelot, was suitably quick on the draw, hitting back at a since-deleted reposter with the below zinger. This was seconded by Yuri Lowenthal, another Spider-Man PlayStation fans will be familiar with, who has also been in just about everything ever. Jennifer Hale and David Hayter recently took a strong stance on the situation generally in comments made to Eurogamer.
The meeting of AI and art was always going to be a messy one, and we won't pretend to understand all of its implications, who is entitled to what, and where this ultimately goes. Creatives and heavy-weights within the audio community see the situation quite starkly, however, and were happy to wade in.
We won't link to the video that kicked the whole thing off, but we've seen it floating around and have to say it is fairly convincing. Fairly innocuous in this case, but it's still early days, and it seems like something the industry is going to need to grapple with moving forward. Sound off in the comments section below.