Eerie New AI Tool Narrates Audiobooks in Voice of Late Actors

You will soon have the opportunity to listen to Judy Garland’s interpretation of the children’s book that served as the basis for the film The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, even though she never recorded her voice reading the book.

This Thursday, ElevenLabs, an artificial intelligence firm, announced that its recently released Reader app will feature digitally created celebrity voice-overs of actors who have passed away, such as Garland, Burt Reynolds, and James Dean. You can have anything on your phone read in the voice-over program, and a celebrity can be your guide.

The daughter of Ms. Garland and an agent for her estate, Liza Minnelli, expressed her joy at the prospect of her mother’s voice being heard by the many millions of people who hold her in high esteem.

Piotr Dabkowski, a former Google engineer, and Mati Staniszewski, a London-based entrepreneur, started ElevenLabs. Its valuation has surpassed $1 billion.

In addition to the celebrities, users can select voices from various sources, including middle-aged men in the US or energetic millennials.

Concerns that companies may try to replace performers with AI prompted a 118-day walkout by Hollywood actresses last year.

Using an artificial intelligence technique called MAL, Paul McCartney and film director Peter Jackson were able to extract John Lennon’s voice from a home recording from the 1970s and make it absolutely audible.

With the use of MAL, which can be programmed to distinguish between various instruments, including guitar, piano, and vocals, he was able to complete the “last Beatles song” with Ringo Starr, which reached number one on the singles list in November.

After their deaths, Michael Jackson and Tupac Shakur were projected as holograms at live performances, showcasing another application of technology in the entertainment business.

In the meantime, an AI London play featuring the Swedish band ABBA—all of whom are still alive—earns money.

Last week, news broke that NBC’s Peacock streaming platform would include daily summaries of the Olympics hosted by an AI version of legendary sportscaster Al Michaels this summer. 

Michaels is alive and will be receiving compensation for his role.