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Air Force Wants Terminator Tongues

In Terminator 2, the evil, morphing T1000 imitates the voices of John Connor's foster parents, in order to lure the snot-nosed future leader of humanity back home... and kill him. Luckily, Ahnold the good Terminator does some fancy mimickry of his own -- aping John's early-teen whine, and tricking the robotic trickster right back.t1000.jpgThe Air Force is hoping to pull off the same stunt, one day. The flyboys are looking for a few good researchers "to develop and test voice transformation algorithms" so airmen can "disguise their true identity or... make their voice sound like another individual."Computer scientists have gotten better and better at syntheisizng speech that sounds almost human. But "while voice transformation [has] been around for a while, the ability to transform a persons voice to a target voice is not yet solved," the Air Force observes. So the program will start by playing with the "speaking rate, stress, and intonation" to "provide broad parameters for modeling a persons voice. A finer grain analysis of a persons voice may also be performed by de-convolving an audio signal into its glottal pulse and vocal tract information."If that all works as planned, the idea is to move on to "experiments with human listeners... to assess the validity and potential use of voice transformation techniques." And if that goes well, too, then it's on to "employ[ing] voice transformation software... for use in a deception campaign against hostile forces."There could also be commercial uses, the Air Force notes. In a case of art-imitating-life-imitating-art, the military research might be used "in the gaming industry and animated films for creating and modify voices, for voice dubbing of foreign films, and for creating/reducing a persons accent."Maybe the work will be done by the time Ahnold suits up for Terminator 5.UPDATE 5:10 PM: Defense Tech pal Xeni Jardin just test-drove the latest translator tech.

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