As Mr. Vedantam begins the podcast, "At some point in our lives, many of us realize that the way we hear our own voice isn't the way others hear us. And we begin to realize that our voices communicate so much more than mere information: they reveal our feelings, our temperament, our identity."
This sets the tone for the next 30 minutes in which voice as identity is looked at from several angles, including a transgender woman's struggle with hearing herself in her voice, a woman who experienced a drastic change in her voice after surgical intubation damaged her vocal cords, and in the case of speech disorders requiring speech generating devices to communicate, how the use of modern speech synthesis technology can provide these individuals with their own unique identifiable vocal identities.
"Voice is about who you are. Our voice signals how old we are. Our voice signals our gender. Our voice signals, you know, things about our personality."
An important part of any technology conversation is "how do you mitigate the unintended outcomes?" and this is something Rupal and Shankar briefly touch upon. With the increase in deep fakes across media, Ms. Patel discussed the vulnerabilities and risks of new voice technologies, from political to financial impacts. She further stated that along with advances, there are ethical responsibilities that companies building these technologies must consider, and how VocaliD has designed ethical AI into our business.
In summary, this podcast is a wonderful introduction into the concept of voice as identity. Be sure to subscribe to Hidden Brain for more fascinating episodes as Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.