Face of a Robot, Voice of an Angel?

The last time you heard a computer convert a line of text to speech, it probably jarred. Google’s machine learning division, DeepMind, has developed a new voice synthesis system using artificial intelligence, which it thinks will improve the situation. Having a computer generate the sound of a voice isn’t a new idea. Perhaps the most common approach is simply to use an incredibly large selection of pre-recorded speech fragments from a single person. In a technique called concatenative synthesis, these are pieced together to create larger sounds, words, and sentences. That’s why a lot of computer-generated speech often suffers from glitches, quirky changes in intonation, and pronunciation stumbles. The other competing approach uses mathematical models to re-create known sounds that are then assembled into words and sentences. While less prone to…


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