Apple has developed a new feature within its Apple Books app – AI narrators. In addition to having actual people narrate audiobooks, the app now also offers you the option to have your books read to you by digital voices that sound like human narrators.
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AI is the computer systems simulation of human intelligence processes which include learning, reasoning and self-correction. AI technologies are being developed and used in various applications, including natural language processing, as Apple is doing, robotics, and expert systems for various industries and purposes.
Apple decided to make this move to give those books from smaller publishers and less well-known authors a chance to have their books narrated on the platform. Audiobooks are more a platform for much bigger novels and publishing companies who have the budget to make them.
The company has been reaching out to independent publishers over the last several months and offering them a chance to have their audiobooks read by these AI narrators. The agreement was that they would front the cost of the digital recordings yet pay authors royalties on sales, and some publishers agreed.
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With this new feature added, more publishers will have the opportunity to get their books out there, and readers will have access to a larger amount of content.
The first and probably biggest argument being made against AI narration is that some are worried this may do away with the use of human narrators. Audiobook narration has become a huge industry for VoiceOver artists and actors, especially since the start of the pandemic.
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However, since it costs much more and takes longer to create an audiobook with a human narrator, Apple and other big tech companies may opt to start using AI.
It will mainly depend on how readers respond to having an AI-generated voice narrate to them, as many people may still prefer hearing the liveliness of a human narrator.
The other argument being made is the sense of lower quality control. It has always been safe to assume that the books made into audiobooks are probably some of the best ones out there, considering how much time and money it takes to create them.
However, with the use of AI narration, all that time and money is no longer a concern, and virtually any book (whether it’s good or bad) can be made into an audiobook.
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It’s great for publishers who want to get their books out and do not have the means to do so. However, it might take away the special status of having a literary work that is “good enough” to be produced as an audiobook.
What do you think of artificial intelligence? Will it make our lives easier… or should we be concerned that this is the beginning of the end of humanity as we know it?
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