People Are Using A.I. to Make Spongebob Squarepants Characters Sing (and It Rules)
There are a lot of reasons to be terrified of artificial intelligence (A.I.), with some experts going as far as to say A.I. represents a major extinction threat to humanity. Plenty of people in the technology field have reservations.
Also uncomfortable with the explosion in A.I. is the entertainment industry, with artificial intelligence being one of the reasons entertainers want updated contracts that will prevent their likenesses from being re-created by computers without their permission.
On the opposite side of that coin, however, is the growth of A.I. in people creating hilarious concepts like cartoon characters singing popular songs. And one of the most popular cartoons in history is getting the A.I. treatment.
"Are Ya Ready, Kids?"
Spongebob Squarepants is one of the most recognizable cartoon characters of the modern era. It is one of the longest-running cartoons out there, and it has a massive following online. It's influence in modern culture simply cannot be overestimated.
In other words, it was only a matter of time before its characters would get put through A.I. generators with hilarious results.
What I didn't expect, however, was just how good some of it might be. For example, someone used an A.I. generator to make the character known as "Plankton" sing "The Sound of Silence." The band Disturbed did a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's hit.
I was not prepared for the raw emotion that Plankton was capable of.
It is debatable whether Distrubed's version is better than Simon and Garfunkel's. What's not debatable is the fact that Plankton's version is the best there is.
But Plankton is not the only character who makes for an amazing cover artist. Squidward, who is famous for his sour attitude and nasally voice, is somehow made to do a hilarious-but-also-emotional re-creation of Johnny Cash's version of the song "Hurt."
And... my God.
This is probably the best use for A.I., as it's both harmless and hilarious. I did not think I needed to hear Spongebob signs "Welcome to the Black Parade," but here we are and I have no regrets whatsoever.
But no matter what, you simply aren't ready to hear the entire Spongebob crew singing Eminem's "Rap God." (WARNING: Graphic language).
How Do They Do It?
If you can find the right software, it can be a time-consuming but fun process to train the algorithms in the software to produce the right music for you.
According to the website Speechify:
AI voices are generated using sophisticated algorithms and deep learning techniques. These algorithms analyze vast amounts of data to learn and mimic the characteristics of human voices, resulting in high-quality, synthesized singing or speaking voices. AI voice generators utilize text-to-speech (TTS) technology to convert written text into vocal tracks that closely resemble human singing or speech.
It can be used for extremely creative purposes if done for good. There are plenty of concerns that it can be used for ill, but the entertainment industry is working to prevent that from happening.
Recording artist Sting told the BBC in a recent interview that “The building blocks of music belong to us, to human beings." He, like others, is concerned about the coming fight over A.I.
The ethics of A.I. are a looming battle the entertainment industry is preparing for, but no one knows for certain how it will go.