According to that demo video and news stories like this one, it looks as though Adobe has put in some pretty significant work on something they’re calling VoCo. Long story short, it’s a method for basically doing whatever you want with someone’s voice, much like you can currently do to pictures with Photoshop. Currently the program needs about a 20 minute sample of someone’s speaking voice, and from that it creates what sounds like a pretty convincing text to speech synthesizer. The examples shown are small and sound a little choppy, but the better it gets, the creepier it’s going to become.
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some practical applications here. If someone loses his ability to speak and enough recordings of his voice exist, that person will still sound the way he used to should he decide to go the Stephen Hawking artificial voice route. That’s pretty amazing. But if this falls into the wrong hands, I don’t even want to think about it. I know what I’d do with it, and I’m a nice person. The hoaxing and framing and media manipulation that someone who’s not nice would be capable of thanks to this is staggering, and if you know anything about technology you know as well as I do that it’s only going to be a matter of time before someone figures out how to strip the watermarking Adobe says it’s planning.
I’m not saying that VoCo is going to be the end of the world, but it absolutely could change it. Journalists and bloggers gathering news, lawyers trying cases, political figures and celebrities who may have words put into their mouths…hell, let’s just say anyone who’s ever spoken in public could potentially have something to worry about.