Malmö. Sunday. Evening.
When ChatGPT was publicly released last autumn, and the debate about AI gained momentum, I found it much more exciting than frightening but it did take some time for me to figure out how I could use artificial intelligence interestingly and creatively.
I hoped to integrate some of these new tools into my workflow, just as I had done with other programs that have been using AI for a few years (like Adobe Photoshop). Did I need to learn more about the field, or did the technology need to develop further for a layperson like me to benefit from it?
But despite AI tools still being a bit blunt, I felt both urgency and agency to at least try a few things… with surprisingly good results.
In the autumn of 1986, my 65-year-old father, Ernest, passed away from emphysema, a lung disease. Calling him a heavy smoker would be a gross understatement, as he consumed 50-60 cigarettes daily. In the top drawer next to the bed where he died in Los Angeles, there were a few items in roughly the same quantity: 3-4 unopened Ventolin inhalers (for asthma) and 3-4 soft pack Pall Mall Red cigarettes.
A few years ago, one of my four siblings in the USA discovered a very old interview with our father that a journalist had recorded and archived. The interview was about the emerging art scene in Los Angeles in the 1960s, and even though the audio quality was poor, I was still shaken by hearing my father’s voice after such a long time. The last time I’d it was in early summer 1978, just a few weeks after my mother passed away and a month before I moved to Sweden.
My father was married five times, and he divorced my mother when I was 6 years old. But despite the years that passed between our contacts, I immediately recognized his voice from the interview. It was as if he had spoken to me just a few days earlier.
It’s eerie how a voice you haven’t heard in so long is still stored somewhere in the deepest recesses of the brain.
A couple of weeks ago, I hired a guy who works in AI and asked him to use the old interview as a basis to clone my father’s voice and then have it read a short text that I had written.
This is the result of that experiment.