Skin in the Game: Modulate AI and Addressing the Legal and Ethical Challenges of Voice Skin Technology

25 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021

See all articles by Rachel Gordon

Rachel Gordon

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Ryan Budish

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: January 6, 2021

Abstract

This educational toolkit from the BKC Policy Practice on AI includes a case study, a teaching note, and a background primer. Collectively, they comprise a toolkit that can illuminate some of the challenges in moving from AI principles to practice. The case study, Skin in the Game: Modulate AI and Addressing the Legal and Ethical Challenges of Voice Skin Technology, follows MIT alums and friends Carter Huffman and Mike Pappas, who co-founded Modulate in 2017 to commercialize their technology for creating synthetic voice skins. By innovatively applying concepts from artificial intelligence systems called Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), the two men had created a novel approach to make one voice sound like another in real time. Although Modulate had extremely limited human and financial resources, Huffman and Pappas wanted to ensure that this technology, with its ability to match the timbre of almost any individual on the planet, would not be misused. How could they simultaneously push Modulate forward, maintain its technological and competitive edges, and make their investors happy, while also upholding a code of ethics? For a tiny company like Modulate, what did this look like?

Written by Rachel Gordon, Research Associate, Teaching Learning and Curriculum Solutions, Harvard Law School Library, and Ryan Budish, Assistant Research Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, this case was developed as a basis for discussion in educational and training environments. It is intended to spark discussions among students as they put themselves in the place of the Modulate co-founders, and explore the conflicts and tensions that they faced. The case is not an endorsement of any one approach or business, but instead highlights the complex and dynamic challenges that AI ethics can present in the real world.

Keywords: artificial intelligence

Suggested Citation

Gordon, Rachel and Budish, Ryan, Skin in the Game: Modulate AI and Addressing the Legal and Ethical Challenges of Voice Skin Technology (January 6, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3761453 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3761453

Rachel Gordon (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Ryan Budish

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
6173849108 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/rbudish

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