A lot of tech analysts like to talk about “emerging AI.” However, when experts from Sequoia make a list, the industry pays attention. As a Silicon Valley capital firm behind such unicorns as DoorDash, Zoom, Snowflake, and Vanta, Sequoia knows what to look for in tech trends.
Sonya Huang, a partner at Sequoia, recently tweeted an evolving “map” of the generative AI landscape. The graphic includes various categories of AI content generation, such as text apps Jasper and Character.ai.
WellSaid Labs is also on the map, in the Voice Synthesis category.
The Threshold for AI Usefulness
For many years, AI apps were more novelty than essential tool. However, in recent years the tech has made big advancements.
In Sonya’s words, the threshold is when the AI can do something at comparable quality to a human.
“There is some benchmark, which is human-level performance, and now that these models are just in the last couple of years starting to exceed that, only then can you have AI that really, really augments how we work. Because if it’s not as good, the technology’s not ready. So the first thing I’d say is, the technology is finally getting ready.”
WellSaid recently surveyed users by playing recordings of human voice actors and snippets of AI renderings. When asked to rate the “naturalness” of the samples, survey respondents rated WellSaid Avatars the same as human recordings.
Ethics Remain a Top Concern with Generative AI
As the technology of generative AI improves each year, more ethical questions emerge. Especially in the visual generations, how will the AI industry protect copyrights? What about deepfakes?
Progress is coming in this field, but it may take a while. As Sonya notes:
“There isn’t a legal framework for this stuff. Ideally, this is a constructive dialogue between all folks on all sides of the table because until there is that clarity, I think it’s very hard to make progress.”
WellSaid recently appointed Sara Weisweaver as Head of Ethics to work proactively on these issues in AI voice. From content moderation to voice actor relationships, Sara guides these important conversations here.
Learn more about the Voice Actor relationship in this webinar replay with Sara.
The Hype is Real
As this field of AI gains more attention, it will be interesting to watch investors follow. Some of the categories in the landscape are still empty. Sonya doesn’t expect this to last for long:
“If I was a founder in [Y Combinator] right now, I would 100% be pointing my guns at one of these models and seeing what I can do.”