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Technology Going Too Far: Why Adobe’s New “VoCo” Causes Concern

In the age of technology, there hardly seems to be a way to slow down advancement, to slow down evolution, and to slow down innovation. All three traits are praised in most aspects of life, but how far is too far? With technology being the center of our lifestyle, development and creation is vital to improvement, knowledge, and understanding. Yet, what has been called into question recently, by the world’s politicians and leading innovators, is where the line should be drawn.

Adobe recently announced its newest project, Project VoCo, a software that is said to change the game of speech editing. Praised to be the “Photoshop of speech,” VoCo makes it possible to take an audio recording and alter and manipulate the words and phrases to something the speaker never said, but sounding exactly like them.

At a live demo in San Diego, the host asked a man to say something, to which he replied “and I kissed my dogs and my wife.” Within seconds Adobe was able to alter the transcript and change it to “I kissed Jordan three times,” words of which he had never spoken, yet mimicked his phonetic pronunciation.  Many were impressed by the ease at which it took to make something out of nothing, though several were horrified.

The ethical issues associated with its misuse are endless, as world issues are at risk of being exploited through technology. Examples of specific scenarios could be the manipulation of world leaders and their speeches, security at risk of being compromised. With what the internet believes to be true at the moment, there is a virtual perilousness for lawyers, journalists, and other professionals who use the internet as a primary source of evidence.

Looking at it through the risks of financial security, banks and security firms have started to use voiceprints as a way to extract and give money. With VoCo, anyone and everyone has the opportunity to manipulate another’s voice, ultimately anticipating a cybersecurity crisis.

Though VoCo’s intentions and reason of creation was not to pose as a threat, but to rather help creator’s of art and film. The film industry has long awaited such software to use as a way to edit actors’ voices and motions to have a smoother editing process. Software is available globally through legal and illegal means, meaning that the detection of proper use of VoCo would be difficult to track.

VoCo as of now has no release date, but is anticipated by many technology developers. Its risks and threats are still being considered by many countries on the legality of the software.

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