Stefanie Sun is a popular Singaporean singer whose last studio album was released in 2017, although she’s still an active artist. However, in China she’s now becoming an unwilling guinea pig in the latest wave of experiments with AI voice-cloning technologies.
The South China Morning Post reported on how a raft of ‘AI-Sun Yanzi’ accounts on social media have been releasing cover versions of other artists’ songs using AI clones of Sun’s voice.
She’s not happy about this at all.
“My fans have officially switched sides and accepted that I am indeed ‘an unpopular singer’ while my AI persona is the current hot property. I mean really, how do you fight with someone who is putting out new albums every few minutes,” said Sun in a social post, according to the report.
“The very task that we have always convinced ourselves; that the formation of thought or opinion is not replicable by robots, the very idea that this is beyond their league, is now the looming thing that will threaten thousands of human conjured jobs. Legal, medical, accountancy, and currently, singing a song.”
The key here is consent: or rather the lack of it. Sun is not a willing participant in these experiments.
This isn’t a situation like Holly Herndon or Grimes in the west, where they have created and licensed their own AI voice-clones with a business model that will see them share in the revenues of tracks made using them.