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AI Olympics: US broadcaster says news items will be commented on by AI-generated voice

Are you ready for an AI-generated narration of the Olympics?
Are you ready for an AI-generated narration of the Olympics? Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By David Mouriquand
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NBC is giving the Paris Olympic Games an unlikely twist: an AI-generated voice.


US broadcaster NBC announced it will be offering daily "audio and video recaps" of the Paris Olympic events for subscribers of its Peacock streaming platform, all in the voice of veteran sports commentator Al Michaels... but entirely generated by artificial intelligence.

The sportscaster will deliver personalized recaps of the media company’s coverage, all of it tailored to fans’ specific interests. Each morning, NBC’s Peacock streaming hub will deliver a video summary of the last day of coverage, built out of clips and a high-quality AI re-creation of Michaels’ voice. 

“When I was approached about this, I was skeptical but obviously curious,” said the star presenter of the American channel NBC, quoted in an NBCUniversal press release. “Then I saw a demonstration detailing what they had in mind. I said, ‘I’m in.’”

NBC projects that nearly seven million personalized variations of “Your Daily Olympic Recap on Peacock” could be streamed across the US during the Games. 

While generative AI can produce all kinds of content (text, images, sounds), the results often contain factual errors. With this in mind, the network has assured that a team of NBC Sports editors will review all content, including audio and clips, to ensure quality and accuracy before the summaries are made available to users. 

The news comes as many creative industries and artists are questioning how artificial intelligence can be used. Or if it should be used in the first place.  

Singers, actors, dubbing actors or authors have denounced the "theft of voices" by AI, and countless have filed lawsuits against various generative AI companies, including OpenAI (ChatGPT), accusing them of using their works to train their AI models. 

In April, more than 200 musicians, including Robert Smith, Billie Eilish and Nicki Minaj, signed an open letter calling for the “predatory” use of AI in the music industry to be stopped.

The letter, while acknowledging the creative possibilities of new AI technology, stated: “Make no mistake: we believe that, when used responsibly, AI has enormous potential to advance human creativity and in a manner that enables the development and growth of new and exciting experiences for music fans everywhere.” 

“Unfortunately, some platforms and developers are employing AI to sabotage creativity and undermine artists, songwriters, musicians and rightsholders. When used irresponsibly, AI poses enormous threats to our ability to protect our privacy, our identities, our music and our livelihoods.” 

This led to some of the world's biggest record labels suing two AI start-ups, Suno and Udio, over alleged copyright infringement. The landmark case alleges that the startups are exploiting on an "almost unimaginable scale" the recorded works of artists. 

Still, NBC is ploughing ahead. Their highlights tool will be available on Peacock  starting on 27 July. 

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