Podcaster Joe Rogan has interviewed a surprising guest, given that the guest has been dead for well over a decade. No, this is not us announcing in a roundabout way that zombies are a thing and it's primarily affecting former CEOs of multinational corporations. Both voices, in fact, are generated by artificial intelligence (AI).
The podcast.ai podcast generates all their podcasts using artificial intelligence, this week creating an eerie (if not altogether coherent) conversation between a bot pretending to be Rogan and a bot pretending to be Jobs.
"We wanted to push the boundaries of what is possible in current state-of-the-art speech synthesis, we wanted to create content that can inspire others to do the same," the team behind the bots say on their website. "[T]here was no one who inspired and impacted the technology world more than Steve Jobs, that's why in the first episode we brought his voice back to life."
To achieve the conversation, the team generated transcripts using language models trained on his biography and recordings of Jobs available online, while Joe Rogan has plenty of audio recordings to train his side of the model on. That transcript was then turned into surprisingly convincing voices using Play.ht, a text-to-voice generator.
"Hello freak bitches," Rogan-bot opens with, before forgetting the name of its podcast. "Welcome to another edition of the Bro Jogan experience."
"It's been a long time since I've been on the show I've missed this, it's always fun [1:51]", Jobs-bot said, not wasting time to mention that's because he's dead. The real-life Steve Jobs had never been on the podcast.
Bar a few audio glitches and times where the algorithm went off piste (Joe Rogan, met with proof of the afterlife right in front of him, spends a surprising amount of time talking about LSD and Buddhism), the result is surprisingly convincing, particularly in the text-to-speech department. Though, because of slightly non-nonsensical errors in the transcript, if you listened to it without knowing that it was AI-generated, you may suspect that both people were conducting the interview during some sort of carbon monoxide leak.
The podcast plans to make more episodes using AI-generated text and voices, and invites listeners to suggest interviewers/interviewees for future episodes.