Actor Stephen Fry claims that producers used AI to replicate his voice from the Harry Potter audiobooks without his permission. AI has become a central point of contention of both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.
As reported by Fortune, Fry told an audience at a London festival, “I’m a proud member of [SAG-AFTRA], as you know we’ve been on strike for three months now. And one of the burning issues is AI.”
At the festival, Fry played a clip of AI mimicking his voice as the narrator of a historical documentary. “I said not one word of that—it was a machine. Yes, it shocked me,” he said. “They used my reading of the seven volumes of the Harry Potter books, and from that dataset an AI of my voice was created and it made that new narration. What you heard was not the result of a mash-up, this is from a flexible artificial voice, where the words are modulated to fit the meaning of each sentence.”
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English actor Fry has earned wide acclaim for his roles in Wilde, Gosford Park, V for Vendetta, A Fish Called Wanda, and Alice in Wonderland. He is also sought after for his voice-over work, which includes narrating all seven Harry Potter audiobooks.
Fry told the same festival audience that AI stealing his voice from the Harry Potter audiobooks marks the beginning of a looming threat to creative artists. “This is audio,” he said. “It won’t be long until full deepfake videos are just as convincing. We have to think about [AI] like the first automobile: impressive but not the finished article.” He continued:
“Tech is not a noun, it is a verb. It is always moving. What we have now is not what will be. When it comes to AI models, what we have now will advance at a faster rate than any technology we have ever seen. One thing we can all agree on: it’s a f—ing weird time to be alive.”
In the same Fortune article, Mission: Impossible actor Simon Pegg echoed Fry's concerns. “We're looking at being replaced in some ways,” said Pegg. “We have to be compensated and we have to have some say in how [our image is] used. I don't want to turn up in an advert for something I disagree with… I want to be able to hang on to my image, and voice, and know where it's going.”