It's not hard to find a clip of Bill Gates talking about anything from the early days of Microsoft to his friendship with fellow billionaire Warren Buffett. As one of the most famous and wealthiest people alive, he has been a regular presence in television, radio and other interview formats for several decades.
But now you can even listen to the sound of Gates' voice saying things that the billionaire has never actually said. That's because two Facebook engineers have created an artificial intelligence system that clones the voice of famous people.
Sean Vasquez and Mike Lewis used AI to develop a sophisticated computer-generated speech system, called MelNet, according to their recently published research paper. The system, which relies on machine learning, has already generated convincing AI-generated audio clips that match the voice of Bill Gates and a handful of other famous speakers, from primatologist Jane Goodall to the late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.
MelNet's audio clips of those famous individuals' AI-cloned voices can be found online here, under the heading "Selected Speakers." But here are a few samples of the AI-generated version of Gates' voice speaking in a series of two- to three-second clips that feature simple test phrases, like "A cramp is no small danger on a swim." Or "The glow deepened in the eyes of the sweet girl." Though the sentences seem nonsensical, they are actually taken from a collection called "Harvard Sentences," which are phonetically balanced phrases often used by engineers to test communications systems and artificial voice programs.