Illness silenced her, but AI gave her a voice to carry in her phone

Artificial Intelligence Gives Voice Back to Woman who Lost it to Brain Tumor

Before last summer, Alexis “Lexi” Bogan had a vibrant voice filled with exuberance. She loved belting out Taylor Swift and Zach Bryan ballads in the car, laughing all the time, even while managing misbehaving preschoolers or debating politics with friends. But then, that voice was taken from her.

In August, doctors removed a life-threatening tumor near the back of her brain. After a month, when the breathing tube came out, Bogan struggled to swallow and speak, with her speech still impaired months later. Friends, family, and strangers found it challenging to understand her.

However, in April, the 21-year-old got a new voice – not her real one, but a synthetic AI voice generated using artificial intelligence. Trained on a 15-second snippet of her teenage voice from a cooking demonstration video, her AI voice can now say almost anything she wants, by typing a few words into a phone app.

Despite concerns about the potential misuse of AI voice-cloning technology, Bogan and a team of doctors at Rhode Island’s Lifespan hospital group believe they have found a meaningful use for it. Bogan is one of the first people, and the only one with her condition, who has been able to recreate a lost voice using OpenAI’s Voice Engine. Other AI providers have also tested similar technology for people with speech impediments and loss.

Doctors hope that Bogan’s success will pave the way for millions of people with debilitating conditions to benefit from this technology. Dr. Ali, a neurosurgery resident, and Dr. Mirza, another resident working on the pilot, believe that the risks are worth it to help patients regain their true voices.

This groundbreaking technology has opened up new possibilities for Bogan, who now uses the AI voice app about 40 times a day. She has used it to reconnect with her family and friends, order food, and even communicate with the children at the preschool where she works.

As OpenAI cautiously expands the use of its Voice Engine, Bogan’s doctors have started cloning the voices of other patients in Rhode Island, with the hope of eventually bringing this technology to hospitals worldwide. Despite some limitations, Bogan remains optimistic about the future possibilities of AI voice technology.

For now, she is grateful to have a tool that helps her find her voice again, even though it may sound like her teenage self. As she continues to explore the capabilities of this technology, Bogan remains focused on how it can benefit others with similar challenges, serving as an inspiration to both her doctors and the AI community.

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