Liars Flock to Lyrebird, a Voice Mimicking AI

I’ve seen a lot of buzz about Lyrebird, a potentially revolutionary AI startup that claims to analyze a person’s voice DNA and mimic them saying anything using only a 1-minute audio sample. The really cool demo below recognizably spoofs Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump:


Before we get too excited… (too late!)

So here’s a problem that no one is talking about: there is no such thing as “voice DNA.” I felt dirty using it in the opening paragraph, but it was to help you realize how easy it is to be led astray. “Voice DNA” is a completely made-up term. There are no scientific studies about voice DNA, and there doesn’t even appear to be a consensus on what the fundamental components of the human voice are. The problem with comparing what Lyrebird does to DNA is that we (i.e., regular folks) are prone to wrongly imbue the technology with the full weight of scientific rigor and hard-earned clout of decades worth of hard genetics research, when, in reality, voice DNA is not a thing.

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