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Holly Herndon launches “digital twin” deepfake voice tool

By | Published on Thursday 15 July 2021

Holly Herndon

There are all sorts of concerns being raised about what the development of so called deepfake audio means legally speaking when it comes to things like copyright infringement, publicity and image rights, fraud and more. What are the implications – legally but also morally and creatively – if anyone’s voice can be accurately mimicked by a computer? Experimental musician Holly Herndon is heading this face-on by releasing online her own “digital twin” – named Holly+ – for anyone to use.

“Vocal deepfakes are here to stay”, says Herndon. “A balance needs to be found between protecting artists and encouraging people to experiment with a new and exciting technology. That is why we are running this experiment in communal voice ownership”.

“The voice is inherently communal, learned through mimesis and language, and interpreted through individuals”, she goes on. “In stepping in front of a complicated issue, we think we have found a way to allow people to perform through my voice, reduce confusion by establishing official approval, and invite everyone to benefit from the proceeds generated from its use”.

What does all this mean? Well, there’s now a website where you can upload any audio and have it returned to you sung by Holly+.

The intellectual property in Holly+ is owned by what is known as a ‘decentralised autonomous organisation’ – or DAO – and any profits generated from the use of the voice will be put back into developing new tools. There are also plans to launch an auction site to sell approved works created with the technology.

“The Holly+ model creates a virtuous cycle”, she says. “I release tools to allow for the creative usage of my likeness, the best artworks and licence opportunities are approved by DAO members, profit from those works will be shared amongst artists using the tools, DAO members, and a treasury to fund further development of the tools”.

You can read about all this in more detail here and try Holly+ out for yourself here.