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Will technology ever replace the voice artist?

One talking point that never seems to be far away from the voice over industry is the role of technology. The emergence of Siri and other automatic voice tools come with that inevitable question – will the machines ever take over?

Actually, this is nothing unique to the voice over industry – there’s a real concern technology could put people in all sorts of professions out of work in the near future. Some voice actors may be worried, but there’s good cause for optimism in the industry.

The human element in voice over recordings

We often talk about the pitfalls of machine translation here at Matinée (it has its uses too, of course) and it’s a similar story with the voice over industry. Much like translation, there’s a lot that goes in to your typical voice over – things that can’t be automated. Technology is already at a point where it can interpret and deliver messages, but it has a long way to go before it can tackle the issues of emotion, tones or even accents.

This isn’t required of every voice over recording, of course, and we’re already seeing automated voices replace the traditional. This could be a trend that continues in largely automated environments (e.g. train station announcements) but this won’t help when you need that human connection between the voice and the audience.

Marketing and advertising sectors certainly won’t be in a rush to trade human voices for machines. While the animation, film and gaming industries are fully invested in creating more realistic, human experiences. The fact is, there’s a strong calling for quality voice actors and it’s likely this demand will continue to grow.

The importance of ‘humanising’ technology

There’s no doubt technology is moving in one direction – one that will see it play a larger role in our lives. But for technology to be truly adopted by us emotional beings, we need to feel that sense of connection; which means technology will continue to be ‘humanised’.

Why? Because we have a habit of relating to what we recognise and resisting the things we don’t. This is especially true with technology – not just in terms of voice over, but also the design, user experience and implementation.

Voice overs really are the next step. As technology edges closer to artificial intelligence (AI) and as computers begin to learn, respond and interact with us; the human element will be vital for new technologies to be accepted by people. And, as things stand, the only viable way to create that human likeness is with a voice – which could mean technology trends actually enhance the voice over industry, that than hinder it.