AI gives journalist his voice back

Dupree was diagnosed with tongue protrusion dystonia – a rare neurological condition

A US radio journalist who lost his voice two years ago will soon return to the air, thanks to artificial intelligence.

Jamie Dupree, 54, a political radio journalist with Cox Media Group, is unable to talk due to a rare neurological condition.

A new voice was created for him by Scottish technology company CereProc.

CereProc trained a neural network to predict how Mr Dupree would talk, using samples from his old voice recordings.

“This has saved my job and saved my family from a terrible financial unknown,” Mr Dupree told the BBC. “There is not much of a market for radio reporters who can’t talk.”

Typically, in order to create a voice for someone, the individual needs to read out a script for 30 hours in order to gather enough data.

Then artificial intelligence is applied to either chop up words from the audio file and stick them back together on demand, or the technology is used to predict and imitate the person’s speech patterns.

Both of these methods can cost tens of thousands of pounds, and take a month to produce just one voice.

Mr Dupree has been covering political news from Congress in Washington DC for the past 35 years. And as a journalist producing content for six radio stations, his voice is essential to his work.

He began losing his voice in 2016, but there was nothing wrong with his vocal cords, throat or larynx.

After baffling doctors from several large US university hospitals, eventually Mr Dupree was diagnosed with tongue protrusion dystonia – a rare neurological condition where the tongue pushes forward out of his mouth and his throat tightens whenever he wants to speak, making it impossible for him to say more than two or three words at a time.


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