Gaming News

This new AI licence aims to protect voice actors and promote ethical AI usage

A new hybrid AI licence for voice actors has been launched by a leading audio tool company, with the aim of providing an ethical approach for AI usage.

The somewhat ironically-named Speechless is a Swedish-based voice actor database and asset tool for developers. Its new AI licence will allow actors to provide their voice and earn a commission when used by developers.

Speechless hopes this approach will provide an ethical way for developers to experiment with AI and establish best practice.

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Developers are increasingly looking to use AI as part of game development, yet actors have been sceptical about the technology. In particular, actors in the UK have been working with union Equity

to battle the rise of AI-driven deepfakes, while in America, SAG-AFTRA’s recent AI voice agreement was met with concern.

Further, the actors behind Baldur’s Gate 3’s most popular characters expressed their concern to Eurogamer about the use of AI, revealing the darker side of the game’s success.

It’s unclear, then, how popular this new type of AI licence will be with actors. Yet Speechless CEO Peo Drangert is keen to find a middle ground between actors and developers.

“We can’t ignore the potential AI has for the games industry, but we need to approach this technology ethically – that’s what we aim to achieve when it comes to voice-acting,” said Drangert.

“By offering a hybrid licence, developers can streamline their processes and experiment with different voice actors at a lower cost. At the same time, voice actors are compensated for their work and the work of their AI-generated voice, have greater opportunities to collaborate with studios, and can work more flexibly. AI will continue to grow in the games sector, so we must use it responsibly to ensure a fairer industry.”

So what does this mean for actors? Well, actors can choose to opt in or out of this licence while still being part of the Speechless platform. Only those who opt in will be discoverable and opting in won’t bind actors to a specific project. Actors can then review job opportunities individually and decide to proceed.

Further, due to robust agreements between Speechless and game studios, the company promises voice data will be protected. These agreements contain specific clauses concerning voice cloning and are tied to specific projects rather than being company-wide.

Lastly, Speechless is at least open about its rates, which follow current Equity recommendations, as per an FAQ on its website.

Developers will then have freedom, within the agreed terms, to use that actor’s voice for generative AI, be that for text-to-speech, adjusting recorded lines without re-records, or adding greater depth to NPCs.

A recent report by Unity claimed 62 percent of studios it surveyed were already using AI. Back in March, meanwhile, Ubisoft unveiled its generative AI “NEO NPCs”.

Speechless is just one example of AI tools available to the games industry, then. It’s vital, though, that it protects the work of voice actors as much as it innovates.


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