"It's a f***ing weird time to be alive."

Into the Fry-ing Pan

When it comes to voicing his concerns over AI, English actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry isn't mincing words.

As Deadline reports, Fry discussed his AI concerns onstage last week at London's CogX Festival while addressing the ongoing entertainment strikes in Hollywood. AI has been a central issue of concern for writers and actors alike.

During his speech, Fry — who announced himself to the crowd as a "proud member" of the actors' union SAG-AFTRA — grappled with AI's potential impact on the entertainment industry, recounting how astonished he was to discover that an automated system had been used to duplicate his voice for a documentary's narration without his express knowledge or consent.

"I said not one word of that — it was a machine," Fry told the crowd as he played a clip of the audio deepfake, according to Deadline. "Yes, it shocked me."

Harry Not-ter

Fry explained an AI was likely taught on the seven official UK-edition Harry Potter audiobooks, all of which he narrated. And although this is a relatively tame use of AI, the actor was careful to warn that the technology could theoretically be used to generate much worse types of content.

"It could therefore have me read anything from a call to storm parliament to hard porn, all without my knowledge and without my permission," the actor continued. "And this, what you just heard, was done without my knowledge."

Weird Time

Indeed, audio-generating AIs have already been used to generate much worse material. Back in January, the beta version of a startup called ElevenLabs' text-to-voice AI leaked to 4Chan, where — surprise! — the cursed website's users immediately abused the system to generate hate speech by cloning the voices of celebrities.

For his part, Fry thinks that this is just the beginning, telling the crowd at CogX that we should think about AI "like the first automobile: impressive but not the finished article."

"Tech is not a noun, it is a verb, it is always moving," Fry continued. "What we have now is not what will be."

Per Deadline, the actor also called attention to the prevalence of visual deepfakes, noting that "it won't be long until full deepfake videos are just as convincing."

"One thing we can all agree on," the actor added, "it's a fucking weird time to be alive."

More on AI and entertainment: The A.V. Club's AI-Generated Articles Are Copying Directly From IMDB

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