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AI-Produced Recording of Jimmy Stewart Reading a Soothing Bedtime Story for the Calm App


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You can’t get to sleep. You’re tossing and turning. You need somebody to learn you a pleasant, healthful bedtime story. And you need that somebody to be the actor Jimmy Stewart.

The sleep and meditation app Calm on Tuesday launched a brand new story for premium customers informed by Mr. Stewart, the beloved actor who starred in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But the voice of their ear lulling them to sleep isn’t from Mr. Stewart, who died in 1997. It is a model of his signature drawl generated by synthetic intelligence.

“Well, hello. I’m James Stewart, but, well, you can call me Jimmy. Tonight I’m going to tell you a story,” the clone of Mr. Stewart’s voice begins, telling listeners to make themselves “nice and comfortable.”

“It’s a heartwarming story of love, of loss, of hope and of joy,” the voice continues. “But most of all, it’s a wonderful sleep story.”

The app is understood for its “Sleep Stories” — tales learn by celebrities together with Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey and Harry Styles to assist customers drift off to sleep. But for its Stewart story, it enlisted the assistance of Respeecher, an organization based mostly in Ukraine that makes use of A.I. know-how to provide artificial speech and clone voices.

The story, written by Calm’s artistic workforce, is the primary of its movie star narrations to make use of an A.I.-generated voice, a spokeswoman for the app stated on Tuesday, including that the corporate collaborated intently with the actor’s property on the venture. “Stewart is one of the most beloved actors in history, with a voice that is heartwarming to many,” the spokeswoman stated in an e-mail.

Respeecher stated that CMG Worldwide, the corporate that manages Mr. Stewart’s licensing, authorized the venture. CMG stated in a press release: “The ability to replicate and integrate the unique voices of artists into contemporary works introduces a dynamic fusion of tradition and innovation.”

Similar tasks is perhaps on the best way, the corporate added, saying it needed to “bring many of the icons that we represent to a whole new generation of admirers,” based on Tina Xavie, its chief advertising and marketing officer.

“This technology not only allows for the continuation of the artistic contributions of those who have passed away but also provides living artists with new and groundbreaking avenues for expression,” the assertion stated.

To revive Mr. Stewart’s voice, Respeecher fed recordings of the actor into its system to coach it to acknowledge the voice. It then mixed it with that of a voice actor who learn the brand new story, stated Alex Serdiuk, chief government and co-founder of Respeecher, in a video interview from Kyiv.

“The voice is iconic. It’s very recognizable, he said, adding that it tied in well with Christmas. “It’s just a cool story and it contributes a lot to mental health awareness.”

The elevated use of A.I. to recreate the likenesses or voices of public figures in movie, tv and different content material has grow to be a contentious concern. Meta, for instance, has launched A.I.-powered characters based mostly on celebrities just like the rapper Snoop Dogg and the previous N.F.L. quarterback Tom Brady that it’s going to quickly weave by means of its merchandise.

Critics have raised questions over the ethics and regulation of the follow. The use of A.I. by studios and leisure firms was among the many considerations on the middle of strikes this yr by Hollywood writers and actors.

Last month, the actor Tom Hanks and the information anchor Gayle King warned their followers on social media that their likenesses had been utilized in unauthorized ads. Cybersecurity specialists have even have additionally cautioned that know-how like “voice deep fakes” might assist scammers steal from folks or companies or commit different crimes.

Mr. Stewart’s household consented to the Calm venture, based on Variety, which earlier reported the story.

Respeecher, based in 2018, has synthesized voices for 150 tasks, together with the soccer coach Vince Lombardi for a video at a Super Bowl. It is at the moment working with Warner Music France, it stated, on an “animated biopic” of the French artist Edith Piaf, who died in 1963, that can use A.I. to generate her likeness and voice. Its know-how may produce voice overs for media that might in any other case be laborious for actors to file, or convert recordings to different languages utilizing the unique actor’s voice.

The firm has stated that it doesn’t enable its know-how for use for “deceptive uses,” together with makes use of that might impinge on a topic’s privateness and talent to search out work.

“In practice, this means we will never use the voice of a private person or an actor without permission,” the positioning says, however provides that the corporate would enable “nondeceptive uses” of historic figures and politicians.

Mr. Serdiuk stated the corporate was conscious of the considerations across the voice know-how. They had launched it with ethics insurance policies which have solely grow to be stricter, he stated, round gaining consent to make use of any mental property. “We are not letting anyone using our technology or tools to introduce a voice that they have no rights to,” he stated.

He added that he was planning to hearken to the Jimmy Stewart story later that night time earlier than mattress.


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