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Project Gutenberg turned ebooks in its digital library into audiobooks without any need for human voices

Quartz: “The oldest digital library in the world, Project Gutenberg, has transformed thousands of ebooks into audiobooks using AI—bypassing the longer (and more expensive) process of hiring a human reader to do the job. It’s exactly the kind of AI application that actors, who are currently on strike in the US for the first time in four decades, fear may endanger their careers. Using synthetic speech technology, Project Gutenberg, in partnership with Microsoft and MIT, transformed more than 5,000 of the ebooks in its free and open access collection into audiobooks. Available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, the library now contains an eclectic mix of titles such as The War Poems by Siegfried Sassoon and England, My England by DH Lawrence, all of which are open-license. The collection is read in a male voice—youthful, with an American accent—in a delivery that (to this writer’s ears) is fairly naturalistic. Aside from an occasional stilted pause, it would be difficult to recognize it as AI-generated speech…”

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