Accent Translation Tech Accused of ‘Whitewashing’

Accent-neutralizaiton technology under fire
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Accent-neutralizaiton technology under fire

Sanas, a Silicon Valley startup, has produced an incredible product that is said to neutralize people’s accents – in real-time. This means that call center employees in Lahore, Pakistan, can have their natural accent converted into buttery Californian, brusque New Yorker, or posh British.

Voice manipulation is not so new. In fact, sound and video are now easily manipulated, as popularised by the deep-fakes and endless AI Trump impersonations. However, Sanas is different in that this is real-time. With Sanas, you can change someone’s accent while they are talking to you, literally, at the flick of a switch.

I am friendly with Andrés Pérez Soderi, one of Sanas’ co-founders – and have been eagerly tracking their progress. They have raised enormous amounts of money from some of Silicon Valley’s leading VCs and are building a fantastic technical product.

Recently the company was thrust into controversy when mainstream America accused the firm of ‘whitewashing’ in attempts to ‘make the world sound whiter.’ Suddenly the company’s mission went viral – for better or worse.

What are your thoughts?

As the world goes global, are people becoming more or less tolerant of different accents, countries, and cultures?

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