Published on October 25, 2023, 9:56 am

Grammarly is set to launch a feature called "Personalized voice detection and application" that generates a profile of a user's writing style and can rewrite text in that style. While Grammarly positions this as a way for writers to make their writing sound more personal, there are concerns about potential misuse of the technology. For example, companies could use a writer's Grammarly voice profile without consent or compensation. Thousands of authors have signed an open letter criticizing generative AI technologies that reproduce their language and ideas, while some writers have sued AI startup OpenAI for allegedly training its text-generating AI on their work without permission. Grammarly restricts access to voice profiles initially but questions remain about their future evolution. As generative AI becomes more prevalent, it is important to address the ethical considerations surrounding ownership and compensation for AI-generated works.

Generative AI technology has become increasingly integrated into our daily lives, raising questions about credit and compensation for AI-generated works. While platforms like YouTube are negotiating licensing agreements with record labels to create new music using musicians’ voices, other AI platforms are finding ways to remunerate artists for their contributions to training data. However, when it comes to text, should writers be recognized and rewarded for AI-generated works that imitate their style?

Grammarly, the cloud-based typing assistant, intends to address this question with its upcoming feature called “Personalized voice detection and application.” This feature is scheduled to launch by the end of the year exclusively for subscribers to Grammarly’s business tier. By analyzing a user’s writing style across various applications and tools, Grammarly generates a personalized profile that can rewrite any text in that person’s unique style.

Tal Oppenheimer, head of product for Grammarly’s client apps, explains that each profile includes an AI-generated description highlighting the defining characteristics of the writer’s style. These profiles can be customized to some extent. Users have the option to discard elements such as tone and style choices that they feel do not accurately represent their writing.

Oppenheimer emphasizes that this is just the initial release of Grammarly’s personalized voice features and promises continued refinement based on customer feedback. Grammarly positions this technology as a means for writers to leverage context and make their writing sound more personal.

However, there are concerns about potential misuse of this technology. For instance, companies could tap into a writer’s Grammarly voice profile while they are on leave or even after they have been let go without their consent or compensation. It is also conceivable that someone might use a Grammarly voice profile in an elaborate phishing attempt by impersonating another person.

These concerns are not unfounded. Author Jane Friedman discovered in August that books were being sold under her name on Amazon—books she did not write but appeared to have been generated by AI. Although Amazon removed the fake books and claimed to prohibit such imitation, incidents like these underline the need for writer protections in the face of generative AI technologies.

Grammarly is not alone in addressing this issue. Thousands of authors have signed an open letter condemning generative AI technologies that mimic and reproduce their language, stories, style, and ideas. In California and New York, writers have even gone as far as suing AI startup OpenAI for allegedly training text-generating AI on their work without permission—an alleged intellectual property theft.

To be fair, Grammarly does restrict access to voice profiles. At least initially, only individual users can utilize their corresponding profile; they cannot access or export someone else’s profile. However, as Grammarly’s marketing materials emphasize cost savings, it raises concerns about how voice profiles might evolve over time. Will businesses subscribed to Grammarly eventually seek access to all their writers’ profiles?

Oppenheimer assures that voice profiles are not intended to replace anybody but help writers learn about their own writing style and create more personalized output in an authentic way. Nonetheless, skepticism remains about the potential implications of this technology.

“Personalized voice detection and application” joins Grammarly’s suite of generative AI features, many of which are becoming generally available this week. With over 30 million users and more than 70,000 teams on its platform, Grammarly reports that users are producing over 12 million pieces of content weekly using these features.

As generative AI continues to advance and become more prevalent in various industries, it is crucial to navigate the ethical considerations surrounding ownership and compensation for AI-generated works. The development of appropriate safeguards will ensure that both creators’ rights are protected while leveraging the benefits offered by generative AI technology.

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