Party on the beach while a computer works for you
This Essay article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Jobs are being automated, that’s no surprise to anyone. From those screens at Mcdonald's to self-driving cars, a lot of people are being replaced by machines. And that automation is bleeding into creative fields — there are AI comedians, AI scriptwriters, and while it might not be PERFECT, it might be good enough.
In 2017, management consultants McKinsey and Co. put out a study that predicted one out of every three jobs would be completely automated by 2030. That was before a global pandemic hit fast forward on that timeline. Sorry to be such a downer, but things are bleak for a lot of people. But y’know what, I, for one welcome our new robot overlords. Why work hard when you can let a computer do your job for you?
So I’ve decided that instead of fighting against our new robot masters, I’m going to completely automate my job so I can spend more time relaxing.
Okay so here’s the deal. I work in a creative field; I make videos. And that job requires a lot of creative thinking. For just one video I need to write a script, shoot an on-cam, edit it together — that takes up so much time. And I've been working from home so much lately that I need to get out of the house, go to the park, read a book, ENJOY LIFE. In other words — things a robot could never do, for now at least. So first thing's first, I need an AI to write me a script.
It turns out there are a lot of websites that offer something like that, to the point where I’d be shocked if it’s not already being used more than we think. But Shortly is the best of the bunch, mainly because it sounded more like a human and less like a machine pretending to be a human. When a script is constantly dropping percentages or words no one uses in their day-to-day, that’s a big red flag.
Next up, I need a digital avatar to present the script — this one’s for all the marbles. Again, I was surprised by the fact that this tech is not only accessible, but it’s also not that expensive to sign up for.
Synthesia web page offering custom avatars.Synthesia
Synthesia rose to the top as the cream of the crop. For just $30 a month, I could create a deep fake to stand in front of a “camera” and do my job for me. Even better, it can instantly translate my voice into 60 other languages.
The only caveat is that it’s not me. The option to scan yourself into the software and become a digital version of myself does exist, for a pricey $1,000 a year. Not happening, but good to know the option exists. The biggest downside was, to no surprise, the robotic tone of the avatar. Devoid of any personality and expression, it just says words at you without any emotion or impact.
This left one other option — a voice-over. Resemble AI blew me away by how thorough it was at trying to build me a digital voice. In order to get everything up and running, you need to read out 50 sentences so that the software has enough data to see how you speak. But, similar to what Synthesia came up with, Resemble AI's take on my voice sounded more like a digital demon wearing my skin as a bodysuit than it did me.
Clone your own voice options.Technality | YouTube
So where does that leave me? With the hard but weirdly comforting truth that I can’t be fully replaced by an AI — at least not for now. The technology exists and it’s shockingly good, but it’s not perfect. And when you’re trying to trick your boss and the world that a face on a screen is actually a person, it NEEDS to be perfect.
We’re nearly there, though. Give it 10 years and we’ll be having a very different conversation. It won’t just be people in manual jobs getting mad about robots coming for their jobs.