Illness took away her voice. AI created a replica she carries in her phone (2024)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The voice Alexis “Lexi” Bogan had before last summer was exuberant.

She loved to belt out Taylor Swift and Zach Bryan ballads in the car. She laughed all the time — even while corralling misbehaving preschoolers or debating politics with friends over a backyard fire pit. In high school, she was a soprano in the chorus.

Then that voice was gone.

More AI coverage

Madonna is among the early adopters of AI’s next wave

Some video game actors are letting AI clone their voices. They just don’t want it to replace them

Humanoid robot-maker Figure partners with OpenAI and gets backing from tech giants

Doctors in August removed a life-threatening tumor lodged near the back of her brain. When the breathing tube came out a month later, Bogan had trouble swallowing and strained to say “hi” to her parents. Months of rehabilitation aided her recovery, but her speech is still impaired. Friends, strangers and her own family members struggle to understand what she is trying to tell them.

In April, the 21-year-old got her old voice back. Not the real one, but a voice clone generated by artificial intelligence that she can summon from a phone app. Trained on a 15-second time capsule of her teenage voice — sourced from a cooking demonstration video she recorded for a high school project — her synthetic but remarkably real-sounding AI voice can now say almost anything she wants.

She types a few words or sentences into her phone and the app instantly reads it aloud.

“Hi, can I please get a grande iced brown sugar oat milk shaken espresso,” said Bogan’s AI voice as she held the phone out her car’s window at a Starbucks drive-thru.

Experts have warned that rapidly improving AI voice-cloning technology can amplify phone scams, disrupt democratic elections and violate the dignity of people — living or dead — who never consented to having their voice recreated to say things they never spoke.

It’s been used to produce deepfake robocalls to New Hampshire voters mimicking President Joe Biden. In Maryland, authorities recently charged a high school athletic director with using AI to generate a fake audio clip of the school’s principal making racist remarks.

Illness took away her voice. AI created a replica she carries in her phone (4)

But Bogan and a team of doctors at Rhode Island’s Lifespan hospital group believe they’ve found a use that justifies the risks. Bogan is one of the first people — the only one with her condition — who have been able to recreate a lost voice with OpenAI’s new Voice Engine. Some other AI providers, such as the startup ElevenLabs, have tested similar technology for people with speech impediments and loss — including a lawyer who now uses her voice clone in the courtroom.

“We’re hoping Lexi’s a trailblazer as the technology develops,” said Dr. Rohaid Ali, a neurosurgery resident at Brown University’s medical school and Rhode Island Hospital. Millions of people with debilitating strokes, throat cancer or neurogenerative diseases could benefit, he said.

“We should be conscious of the risks, but we can’t forget about the patient and the social good,” said Dr. Fatima Mirza, another resident working on the pilot. “We’re able to help give Lexi back her true voice and she’s able to speak in terms that are the most true to herself.”

Illness took away her voice. AI created a replica she carries in her phone (5)

Mirza and Ali, who are married, caught the attention of ChatGPT-maker OpenAI because of their previous research project at Lifespan using the AI chatbot to simplify medical consent forms for patients. The San Francisco company reached out while on the hunt earlier this year for promising medical applications for its new AI voice generator.

Bogan was still slowly recovering from surgery. The illness started last summer with headaches, blurry vision and a droopy face, alarming doctors at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence. They discovered a vascular tumor the size of a golf ball pressing on her brain stem and entangled in blood vessels and cranial nerves.

“It was a battle to get control of the bleeding and get the tumor out,” said pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Konstantina Svokos.

The tumor’s location and severity coupled with the complexity of the 10-hour surgery damaged Bogan’s control of her tongue muscles and vocal cords, impeding her ability to eat and talk, Svokos said.

“It’s almost like a part of my identity was taken when I lost my voice,” Bogan said.

The feeding tube came out this year. Speech therapy continues, enabling her to speak intelligibly in a quiet room but with no sign she will recover the full lucidity of her natural voice.

“At some point, I was starting to forget what I sounded like,” Bogan said. “I’ve been getting so used to how I sound now.”

Illness took away her voice. AI created a replica she carries in her phone (6)

Whenever the phone rang at the family’s home in the Providence suburb of North Smithfield, she would push it over to her mother to take her calls. She felt she was burdening her friends whenever they went to a noisy restaurant. Her dad, who has hearing loss, struggled to understand her.

Back at the hospital, doctors were looking for a pilot patient to experiment with OpenAI’s technology.

“The first person that came to Dr. Svokos’ mind was Lexi,” Ali said. “We reached out to Lexi to see if she would be interested, not knowing what her response would be. She was game to try it out and see how it would work.”

Bogan had to go back a few years to find a suitable recording of her voice to “train” the AI system on how she spoke. It was a video in which she explained how to make a pasta salad.

Her doctors intentionally fed the AI system just a 15-second clip. Cooking sounds make other parts of the video imperfect. It was also all that OpenAI needed — an improvement over previous technology requiring much lengthier samples.

They also knew that getting something useful out of 15 seconds could be vital for any future patients who have no trace of their voice on the internet. A brief voicemail left for a relative might have to suffice.

When they tested it for the first time, everyone was stunned by the quality of the voice clone. Occasional glitches — a mispronounced word, a missing intonation — were mostly imperceptible. In April, doctors equipped Bogan with a custom-built phone app that only she can use.

“I get so emotional every time I hear her voice,” said her mother, Pamela Bogan, tears in her eyes.

Illness took away her voice. AI created a replica she carries in her phone (7)

“I think it’s awesome that I can have that sound again,” added Lexi Bogan, saying it helped “boost my confidence to somewhat where it was before all this happened.”

She now uses the app about 40 times a day and sends feedback she hopes will help future patients. One of her first experiments was to speak to the kids at the preschool where she works as a teaching assistant. She typed in “ha ha ha ha” expecting a robotic response. To her surprise, it sounded like her old laugh.

She’s used it at Target and Marshall’s to ask where to find items. It’s helped her reconnect with her dad. And it’s made it easier for her to order fast food.

Bogan’s doctors have started cloning the voices of other willing Rhode Island patients and hope to bring the technology to hospitals around the world. OpenAI said it is treading cautiously in expanding the use of Voice Engine, which is not yet publicly available.

A number of smaller AI startups already sell voice-cloning services to entertainment studios or make them more widely available. Most voice-generation vendors say they prohibit impersonation or abuse, but they vary in how they enforce their terms of use.

“We want to make sure that everyone whose voice is used in the service is consenting on an ongoing basis,” said Jeff Harris, OpenAI’s lead on the product. “We want to make sure that it’s not used in political contexts. So we’ve taken an approach of being very limited in who we’re giving the technology to.”

Harris said OpenAI’s next step involves developing a secure “voice authentication” tool so that users can replicate only their own voice. That might be “limiting for a patient like Lexi, who had sudden loss of her speech capabilities,” he said. “So we do think that we’ll need to have high-trust relationships, especially with medical providers, to give a little bit more unfettered access to the technology.”

Bogan has impressed her doctors with her focus on thinking about how the technology could help others with similar or more severe speech impediments.

“Part of what she has done throughout this entire process is think about ways to tweak and change this,” Mirza said. “She’s been a great inspiration for us.”

While for now she must fiddle with her phone to get the voice engine to talk, Bogan imagines an AI voice engine that improves upon older remedies for speech recovery — such as the robotic-sounding electrolarynx or a voice prosthesis — in melding with the human body or translating words in real time.

She’s less sure about what will happen as she grows older and her AI voice continues to sound like she did as a teenager. Maybe the technology could “age” her AI voice, she said.

For now, “even though I don’t have my voice fully back, I have something that helps me find my voice again,” she said.


The Associated Press and OpenAI have a licensing and technology agreement that allows OpenAI access to part of AP’s text archives.

Illness took away her voice. AI created a replica she carries in her phone (2024)


Illness took away her voice. AI created a replica she carries in her phone? ›

AI created a replica she carries in her phone. Alexis Bogan, whose speech was impaired by a brain tumor, uses an AI powered smartphone app to create a audible drink order at a Starbucks drive-thru, April 29, 2024, in Lincoln, R.I. The voice Alexis "Lexi" Bogan had before last summer was exuberant.

What is the AI that can recreate your voice? ›

MyVocal.AI makes it easy for anyone to clone their voice using AI for use in content creation, music, podcasting, and more. With its intuitive interface and advanced voice cloning technology, anyone can recreate their unique vocal style in just 60 seconds for free.

How to mimic someone's voice using AI? ›

Voice cloning works by collecting audio data from the person you want to clone, feeding it into a neural network, and then analyzing the audio to recreate the person's voice. Once the machine has been trained, it can generate new audio that should sound identical to that person.

Can AI replicate human voice? ›

Speechify AI Voice Cloning can clone anyones voice in seconds. All it takes is for the AI to listen to your voice for around 30 seconds. Once it samples a persons voice, it can then read lengthy documents, create podcasts and more in the voice it sampled.

What is the AI voice everyone is using? ›

Currently, one of the most widely used AI voices on TikTok is the Speechify AI Studio. Speechify offers a range of voices, including celebrity voices like Obama, Trump, and more.

Is The voice AI safe? ›

Is a virus? Absolutely not. We regularly send our app to anti-virus companies in order to certify that it contains no malicious code or dangerous elements. This is why we are certified and tested by all leading anti-virus companies including McAfee, Google and Avast.

Are AI voices real? ›

AI Voices Today

The new AI voices use natural language learning algorithms that either can create voices from scratch in a more believable manner or use actual human voices to create voices that can be manipulated to sound more realistic (i.e., avatars).

Can AI mimic humans? ›

Artificial neural networks mimic brain behavior, integrating AI with human cognition. These networks develop brain-like features under physical and energy constraints. The artificial networks form efficient, modular structures similar to brain networks.

How to clone someone's voice with AI for free? ›

If you're looking for a free AI voice cloning tool, look no further than invideo AI. Invideo's voice cloner replicates your voice within seconds & you can use your own voice for creating voiceovers for your videos.

Is AI voice cloning illegal? ›

The Federal Communications Commission has ruled that using artificial intelligence to mimic the voice of a celebrity, politician or even a family member in an unwanted phone call is a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a 1991 law aimed at cracking down on junk calls.

What are the dangers of AI voices? ›

One of the most pressing concerns is the spread of disinformation and fake news. With AI-generated voices, malicious actors can create convincing audio recordings of public figures saying things they never actually said, leading to widespread confusion, distrust, and social unrest.

How long does it take for AI to clone your voice? ›

How long does it take to clone a voice? Instant Voice Cloning only requires a few minutes of audio and is available immediately. Professional Voice Cloning requires a minimum of 30 minutes of audio and is available after monthly fine-tuning, however the quality is superior.

Is Siri an AI voice? ›

Siri is Apple's voice-enabled virtual assistant powered by artificial intelligence, machine learning, and voice recognition. Using the commands "Siri" or "Hey Siri," you can activate Siri and ask it to perform various tasks, such as texting a friend, opening an app, pulling up a photo, or playing your favorite song.

Is AI voice free? ›

Dynamic narration across languages and tonalities

Engage your audience with the perfect voice you can create with the free AI voice generator.

What is the most popular AI voice? ›

Murf is one of the top generative AI voice tools available to both casual and business users, providing them with an accessible user interface and a range of scalable voice generation and editing features.

What is the TikTok AI voice called? ›

Speechify is the #1 AI Voice Over Generator. Create human quality voice over recordings in real time. Narrate text, videos, explainers – anything you have – in any style.

What is the voice AI called? ›

AI voice technology, also known as voice synthesis or text-to-speech, is a field of artificial intelligence that focuses on creating human-like speech using high-tech methods.

Is there an AI that changes singers voice? ›

Voice-Swap is a platform that allows anyone to transform their singing voice using AI. Our exclusive roster of artists works in partnership with Voice-Swap, receiving royalties for the use of their AI voices. Every model is created using training data recorded from scratch specifically for Voice-Swap.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Maia Crooks Jr

Last Updated:

Views: 6250

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (63 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Maia Crooks Jr

Birthday: 1997-09-21

Address: 93119 Joseph Street, Peggyfurt, NC 11582

Phone: +2983088926881

Job: Principal Design Liaison

Hobby: Web surfing, Skiing, role-playing games, Sketching, Polo, Sewing, Genealogy

Introduction: My name is Maia Crooks Jr, I am a homely, joyous, shiny, successful, hilarious, thoughtful, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.