Vocal Terrorism

By Matthew Harwood

I've now heard just about every possible modifer for terrorism. England's Guardian newspaper reports:

Computerised speech capable of mimicking any human voice is in danger of unleashing a form of "vocal terrorism", where disinformation is spread by hacking into telephone networks, British scientists warned today.

The researchers believe that advances in synthetic voices, made by recreating digital versions of people's vocal tracts, will make them indistinguishable from real human speech within 15 years.

David Howard, a voice synthesis expert at York University, says the advances his team is making in voice sythesis will allow the reproduction of voices after hearing only a sentence or two. What are the implications of this technology?

"It could be that you're fooled into thinking your bank manager is ringing you, and gets you to divulge details of your account, or it could be that I've taken over a communications network for a country and I broadcast the sound of a leader to the people."



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