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Meta pulls back its new AI speech tool

Meta’s new, potentially powerful AI speech tool has been delayed. This is due to what Meta acknowledges are “potential risks of misuse”.

Technology, including deepfakes and other forms of manipulation, can change our perceptions. Image (C) Tim Sandle
Technology, including deepfakes and other forms of manipulation, can change our perceptions. Image (C) Tim Sandle

Meta’s new, potentially powerful AI speech tool has been delayed. This is due to what Meta acknowledges are “potential risks of misuse”.

The AI tool, known as ‘Voicebox’, can create a potentially believable chunk of new speech that sounds like whoever was featured in the source clip. However, Voicebox also looks like a faster and more economical way to create copycat “deepfake” dialogue.

As AI grows in popularity, tools used for scams become easier to access, leading to an increase in cybercrime.

According to the VPNOverview.com: “The US is dealing with a type of scam linked to AI technology called voice cloning, which is widely available online- and mostly free. These tools help fraudsters leave misleading voicemails and can even change their voices on phone calls. Essentially, the aim of the scam is to steal from people by impersonating family members.”

The statement (provided to Digital Journal) looks at other concerns: “Worryingly, a recent survey of 7,000 people revealed that 70 percent said they may not be able to tell the difference between a cloned voice and the real thing.”

In terms of how easy it will be to commit a crime using the platform: “The only thing the scammer needs is a short audio clip of your family member’s voice, which could easily be accessed through content posted online and by using a voice-cloning program, the clip can be used to sound like a real-life call from a loved one. Therefore, as this type of cybercrime is on the rise, it is important for people to be extra vigilant of these circulating scams, and to take the right safety precautions when receiving a call from an unknown number.”

Meanwhile, other risks exist in terms of AI voice scams. If such a situation is suspected, then to determine if a caller is impersonating someone, the best advice is to hang up and redial the persons actual phone number.

Using social media could be a way of contacting the person to be sure it is them trying to reach out and verify the story. If they don’t have any recollection of calling you, continue to decline any phone calls. At the moment, unknown numbers are being used to contact victims. It is recommended to avoid answering any phone calls from an unknown number.

To avoid being picked out as a potential victim, it is best to avoid posting a phone number online or on any social media platform. Furthermore, as these scams continue to rise, it is recommended to establish a unique ‘safeword’ with other people. This is one way to distinguish what is a real emergency and what is a scam.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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