Doug Cockle: AI Voice Replication is ‘Plain and Simple Theft’

Estimated read time 3 min read

SAG-AFTRA’s Controversial Deal with Replica Studios: ai-Driven Voice Acting and the Voices of Game Characters

Recent headlines have once again highlighted SAG-AFTRA in a less than favorable light. The union body’s partnership with Replica Studios raised eyebrows and sparked outrage among voiceover artists worldwide. The goal? Facilitating the replication of prolific actors’ voices through ai technology.

An Interview with Doug Cockle: A Voiceover Artist’s Perspective

I had the opportunity to speak with Doug Cockle, a prominent voice actor known for his work in “The Witcher” and “Baldur’s Gate III.” His vocal opposition to ai-driven game development has been a topic of discussion in the industry. We delved into the SAG-AFTRA controversy, the encroaching presence of ai voices in gaming, and what lies ahead for this sector.

ai in Game Development: Dangerously Inevitable?

Last year, Cockle voiced concerns about the rise of ai in game development, stating that it was ‘inevitable but dangerous.’ Since then, gamers have passionately debated the use of ai for in-game commentators and promotional imagery. It’s estimated that over half of all game development activities could eventually be handled by ai, including voice acting.

Compensation and Control: The SAG-AFTRA Deal

“If someone allows their voice to be recorded for this ai software and they do 400 lines, they get paid $175,” Cockle explained. “In the UK, I would have been paid roughly £400 for that same number of lines.” The pay discrepancy raises concerns about fair compensation and the value of an actor’s contribution to a project.

Control and Identity: The Voiceover Artist’s Dilemma

“This is where the SAG-AFTRA deal is good,”

Cockle said, “because it gives actors some control.”

The Replication Engine and the Future of Voiceover Work

However, even with control, there are concerns about the long-term impact on an actor’s career. “Why would anyone ever hire the actor again?” Cockle pondered.

Voices Stolen: Theft or Modding?

Cockle’s voice, along with many other actors’, is already being replicated contact without their consent. Modders and YouTube creators use ai to mimic his ‘Geralt voice,’ raising questions about permission, ownership, and the legal boundaries of using an actor’s likeness.

A Developing Situation: A Divisive Issue in Gaming

The debate over ai-driven voice acting and the implications for voiceover artists continues to unfold, with a diverse range of opinions within the gaming community.

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