Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning , Next-Generation Technologies & Secure Development

US FTC Launches Contest to Address AI-Enabled Voice Cloning

'Breakthrough Idea' to Monitor, Prevent, Evaluate Malicious Use Will Win $250K
US FTC Launches Contest to Address AI-Enabled Voice Cloning
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission wants breakthrough ideas to help detect or prevent the malicious use of voice-cloning technology. (Image: Shutterstock)

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission says it will offer a $250,000 prize to the entrepreneur who can find a "breakthrough idea" that will help monitor, prevent or evaluate the malicious use of artificial intelligence-enabled voice-cloning technology.

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The reward is part of a contest the agency launched on Thursday, which will run for 10 days starting Jan. 2, the agency said. The initiative is part of a "larger strategy" that does not limit the agency's toolkit to looking only at self-regulation of organizations to address AI-led risks but takes into account other aspects such as enforcement, rule-making and public challengessuch as this one to provide a more holistic approach.

Eligible participants can develop solutions in the form of products, policies or procedures aimed at addressing fraud and other harms enabled by the technology before they affect consumers and also help enforce the law if they do cause damage.

The solutions must either help prevent unauthorized use of voice-cloning software, provide a way to detect in real time whether an attempt has been made to clone a voice, or offer a method to evaluate post-use if an audio clip contains a cloned voice.

The advent of generative AI tools, especially large language models and text-to-speech synthesis, have allowed voice-cloning technology to become significantly more sophisticated. Researchers have created a near-perfect voice clone using less than a 5-second recording of a person's voice. This holds promise of transformative use, such as medical assistance for those who may have lost their voices due to accident or illness, but it also raises risk concerns such as impersonation scams, fraud and misuse of biometric data and creative content.

"The challenge is crafted in a way that ensures companies are responsible for the first- and second-order effects of the products they release," said Stephanie T. Nguyen, the FTC's chief technology officer.

A runner-up will receive $4,000, and up to other three entities may receive honorable mentions and $2,000 each. The agency will also offer a non-monetary recognition award for participants that come from businesses containing 10 or more people.

If viable ideas do not emerge from the contest, it sends a "critical and early warning" to policymakers to place stricter limits on the technology's use, the FTC said.

About the Author

Rashmi Ramesh

Rashmi Ramesh

Assistant Editor, Global News Desk, ISMG

Ramesh has seven years of experience writing and editing stories on finance, enterprise and consumer technology, and diversity and inclusion. She has previously worked at formerly News Corp-owned TechCircle, business daily The Economic Times and The New Indian Express.

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