Apple turns to artificial intelligence for audiobook narration

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Apple turns to artificial intelligence for audiobook narration

Audio books are becoming increasingly popular.

Without making too much noise, Apple has released a catalog of audiobooks narrated by artificial intelligence (AI), a decision that is likely to spill a lot of ink in the midst of the debate on the effects of AI on the market. work.

The American company believes this feature will help freelance writers who may not be able to convert their titles to audiobooks due to cost and complexity of production.

For now, only a few audiobooks are read by AI-generated voices on the Apple Books platform, offered exclusively in English for the moment. Titles can be found by typing “Al narration” into the app's search bar.

Apple offers four voices in the soprano and baritone categories: Madison and Jackson (romance and fiction) ; Helena and Mitchell (personal development and non-fiction).

Apple Books digital storytelling combines advanced text-to-speech technology with hard work from teams of linguists, quality control specialists and sound engineering specialists to produce high-quality audiobooks from an ebook file . Apple has long been at the forefront of innovative voice technology and has now adapted it for long-form reading, working with publishers, authors and storytellers, said Apple on its website.

Apple now offers books read by digital voice.

A decision that raises several questions

Although the giant justifies its decision by a desire to help freelance writers, several questions remain unanswered, in particular as to the future of so-called human narratives in this booming market.

According to figures from the British daily newspaper The Guardian, audiobook sales jumped 25% last year, grossing more than US$1.5 billion (C$2 billion). Specialists estimate that the global market could represent more than 35 billion US dollars (47 billion Canadian dollars) by 2030.

In an interview with the British media, David Caron, co-producer at ECW, Canada's largest audiobook publisher, recalled the importance of the effect of good narration.

The narrator brings a whole new range of artistry to audiobook creation, and we think that's a powerful thing. Storytelling creates something that is different from the printed book, but adds value as an art form. When you have really great writing and really talented storytelling, you come up with something special. It's worth investing in, he told the Guardian.

Additionally, many artists who specialize in storytelling risk losing their livelihoods if digital voices are gradually replacing them. But on the other side, producing an audiobook with a human voice can take weeks and cost publishers thousands of dollars. The lure of AI promises to significantly reduce these costs.

In any case, one thing is certain: the direction Apple takes will be decisive for the future of audiobooks. As with other AI-powered generators, DALL-E 2 and ChatGPT, for example, this technology opens the door to a world of possibilities, but also a panoply of ethical and economic questions.

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