Opinion

The Internet Is About to Get Much Worse

Greg Marston, a British voice actor, recently came across “Connor” online — an A.I.-generated clone of his voice, trained on a recording Mr. Marston had made in 2003. It was his voice uttering things he had never said.

Back then, he had recorded a session for IBM and later signed a release form allowing the recording to be used in many ways. Of course, at that time, Mr. Marston couldn’t envision that IBM would use anything more than the exact utterances he had recorded. Thanks to artificial intelligence, however, IBM was able to sell Mr. Marston’s decades-old sample to websites that are using it to build a synthetic voice that could say anything. Mr. Marston recently discovered his voice emanating from the Wimbledon website during the tennis tournament. (IBM said it is aware of Mr. Marston’s concern and is discussing it with him directly.)

His plight illustrates why many of our economy’s best-known creators are up in arms. We are in a time of eroding trust, as people realize that their contributions to a public space may be taken, monetized and potentially used to compete with them. When that erosion is complete, I worry that our digital public spaces might become even more polluted with untrustworthy content.

Already, artists are

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