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Dan Bernstein on Al Michaels A.I.-Generated Voice: ‘We Could Create A.I. Anybody’

Ahead of the beginning of the Olympic Games Paris 2024. Peacock has revealed a new daily Olympic recap feature on the platform, a personalized experience that will complement the NBCUniversal coverage of the games. Utilizing generative artificial intelligence (A.I.) and artificial intelligence voice synthesis technology, the “Your Daily Olympic Recap on Peacock” will feature an A.I.-generated version of Emmy Award-winning Hall of Fame announcer Al Michaels narrating the experience. The company unveiled the voice during the One Month Out press event and divulged that it was trained utilizing Michaels’ past appearances on NBC programming.

“Peacock continues to introduce unique customer-first features that strengthen our unmatched leadership in live streaming,” Kelly Campbell, president of Peacock and Direct-to-Consumer for NBCUniversal, said in a statement. “With these recaps alongside interactive elements like Peacock Live Actions and Discovery Multiview, we’re bringing the best of sports together with the best of technology to deliver fans a personalized Olympics experience in a way that’s never been possible before.”

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“When I was approached about this, I was skeptical but obviously curious,” Al Michaels said in a statement. “Then I saw a demonstration detailing what they had in mind. I said, ‘I’m in.’”

Dan Bernstein and Laurence Holmes learned of the news from producer Rey Diaz Wednesday afternoon on the Bernstein & Holmes show on 670 The Score. Diaz outlined additional details of the announcement, one of which is that there will be nearly 7 million personalized variants of “Your Daily Olympic Recap on Peacock” that could be streamed across the United States during the Olympics. He remarked that the innovation was interesting but weird on its face, to which Holmes replied that he did not like the venture.

Diaz cited a comment under a post from Awful Announcing on X in which a user stated that no A.I.-generated voice could accurately replicate Michaels, calling him the greatest of all time. The post ended with R.I.P., leading Awful Announcing to reply that Michaels was still alive.

“Now this was 11 minutes ago, so I thought we would provide a public service for our Score listeners because what happens inevitably on the internet, as we know, is people will read a comment and then just assume it’s real and run with it, and other people will say, ‘I didn’t know he died, R.I.P.’”

Michaels recently completed his second season calling Thursday Night Football games on Prime Video, including the first NFL game to be played on Black Friday. Before moving to the streaming platform, he was the voice of Sunday Night Football for 15 years and has also worked nine Olympic Games for ABC Sports and NBC Sports. Michaels made a memorable final call of the Miracle on Ice from the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics as the United States defeated the Soviet Union to advance to the gold medal game.

“We don’t always have the chance to do this when these death rumors start,” Diaz said. “We just want to let people know Al Michaels is alive, even though an A.I. version will be available for the Summer Olympics if you are a Peacock user, but he ain’t dead, but it’s still weird as hell.”

Last month, award-winning actress Scarlett Johansson has threatened to take legal action against OpenAI after the company introduced a voice titled “Sky” that sounded similar to her own. OpenAI chief executive officer Sam Altman said in a statement last month that the voice was not intended to represent Johansson and that the company cast the voice actor beforehand. Out of respect to Johansson, the company paused using the voice within its products, and he apologized for not communicating better.

“This idea that no broadcaster then could really ever leave us if we wanted,” Bernstein said. “We could create A.I. anybody.”

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