Stellaris gets a DLC about AI that features AI-created voices, director insists it's 'ethical' and 'we're pretty good at exploring dystopian sci-fi and don't want to end up there ourselves'

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Blaster M

While everyone here is screeching about jerbs, I would like to point out that using AI voices to voice an AI is an artistic genius in itself.


Yeah it's real luddite hours here

"How will voicebot 2.0 pay for his child's oil now?"


Are you an idiot?

People are worried about the actual voice actors who voice act the characters.

Do you think GLaDOS was voiced by a potato battery?

Excrubulent , edited

The Luddites ruled actually:

The Luddites were members of a 19th-century movement of English textile workers who opposed the use of certain types of cost-saving machinery, and often destroyed the machines in clandestine raids. They protested against manufacturers who used machines in "a fraudulent and deceitful manner" to replace the skilled labour of workers and drive down wages by producing inferior goods.

It's very similar to protesting the use of AI to make an obviously inferior product, but apparently you think it's an insult.


I’m sick of the Luddite slander. They were completely right and people need to know


They were idiots trying to maintain a poverty based system simply because they weren't on the very lowest rung. They were also proven very wrong, demand for textiles increased dramatically as prices fell and areas where there had been nothing but privation flourished into affluent communities with longer lifespans, better wages and improved living conditions for everyone even the lowest classes - this resulted in improvements literacy amoung the poor and resulted in the erosion of the class system as the early industrial era matured.

If the luddities had won we'd all be far worse off now.

Excrubulent , edited

You are conflating technology and its benefits with the owning class's misuse of that technology. Capitalist apologists love to do this because otherwise the crimes of capitalism would have to stand on their own and there would be no defending them.

It's exactly this conflation that lets people claim that the luddites were entirely anti-technology, but they weren't. Again this is a lie that has been spread by capitalists to defend their own image.

The luddites were killed and suppressed by the military and the government made industrial sabotage a capital offense, and then slandered them. Maybe if they'd won we'd live in a world where reporters weren't murdered over the Panama papers for instance.


So your argument is that their stated aims were a lie and speeches claimed to be from notable figures in the movement were fabricated after the fact? Further that their violent actions should have been overlooked and if they had been there would be no corruption in the world today?

Surely you can see how that argument is about as credible as flat earth?

I don't understand why people think they can just rewrite history to suit their needs.


I'm not really up-to-date on voice synthesis. Have we reached the point where we can get enough training data from just a handful of voice actors to train a model of this quality?

Or is this a case of them using those voice actors for fine-tuning a pretrained model and just being quiet about that?

Dremor , edited

Why .fr lol?

Dremor , edited

Automatic added due to my browser language (I'm French)

This is fine🔥🐶☕🔥

I'm French

Sorry to hear that. Hope you make it through.


I could have had a worse fate... Like being American.


Yeah, if Mozilla's goal is 1200 clips/day and 2400 validations/day then I have a strong suspicion that Stellaris uses a pretrained model and there are no royalties for the people whose voices were used for the pretraining. Not that it would be feasible to spread royalties among that many people in the first place.

What could point against that suspicion though is that Stellaris doesn't need a "perfect" model so maybe they can get away with much, much less. After all the whole gimmick is that it is in-universe AI. A (near-)flawless model would be (near-)indistinguishable from a regular voice actor. Then there would've been no need to hire a bunch of voice actors to train an AI in the first place.

Assuming that it is pretrained -> finetued though, the only hope is that those initial files were donated willingly and not scraped somewhere. Otherwise their "ethical" argument goes out the window.


They claimed they specifically used an ethical model with a license where they pay the person whos voice was trained on.


I get that record sessions are a huge hassle and simply paying VAs per AI-generated voice line is easier for everyone, but it somehow makes Paradox look a little careless to me.

Stories like these also set a precident. This is what voice 'acting' will be like for a moment before it becomes effectively eliminated because voice libraries will become diverse enough quickly and there will be no need for a single more voice actor to be included. It seems like VAs are basically forced to sell their voice to AI companies quickly to at least make a quick buck before they never get a job again.

There's probably no stopping it, but that made this read all the more frustrating to me.

NuXCOM_90Percent , edited

This is what (modern) voice acting has always been.

Actually read a few interviews with professional VAs or watch their streams if they do that. Two VAs actually interacting with each other and reacting is almost unheard of outside of very specific productions (and mostly are done as a stunt for some BTS footage). They read a dozen different takes of every line and go through like five different scripts worth of dialogue. And then they do "efforts" that are just general grunts and emoting that are used for the moment to moment gameplay and to pad out a scene that had heavy rewrites. It is why so many professional VAs can stream "their" games... because they genuinely have no idea what is going to happen.

Paying to train a limited use model off of a specific VA (or even a group of VAs) is the "logical" extension of that. And, arguably, it is a "good" one (with some MASSIVE caveats). Everyone lost their god damned mind over that FPS that came out last year where the announcer was (allegedly?) a model trained off of a VA. But it also meant that you could have stuff you would never have had otherwise. Nolan North isn't going to get a paycheck to sit in a booth all day commenting on random matches. But a model that can read out a team's name and string together different reactions? That is actually really cool and WAY better than the traditional sports game approach of "The Champion! just went through... A Table!"*

Like almost everything AI? The key is to focus on creators' rights and control what can and can't be used as training data. Because the genie is out of the bottle and ain't going back in. But if we can protect the rights of what goes into training data? Then people are still paid for their effort/creation.

Do I think this was done "ethically"? I don't know. But with everything Paradox has done in the past few years? I assume "not in the slightest". But the concept is sound and one that we need to standardize sooner than later.

Of course, we also need UBI so that people's lives aren't tied to their jobs but that is a bigger mess.

*: Also, if you don't think those aren't already stitched and blended together with most of the same tech then I have a bridge to sell you

I'll also add on that there are very good reasons to pay for models based on VAs. Brendan Fraser infamously permanently-ish hurt his vocal cords because of the performance that were expected of him in his prime. Same with a lot of VAs (I think David Hayter is one?) who basically need to smoke a pack a day when they are "in character" to get the right gravely voice. And while Stephanie Beatriz played it smart and made sure her "Rosa" voice was something she could maintain, a lot of actors and actresses basically can't be the character they are famous for because it is killing them.

And pulling a solution out of my ass that is surely missing important aspects of the industry?

if I just want Nolan North or Felicia Day to voice a character then I buy the use of their model from their agency and am charged based on how much dialogue they have in a given game. If I want to use them as a character going forward (so what ANet tried with Felicia before they realized she was too expensive and decided to give Zojja permanent brain damage so she wouldn't ever have dialogue again)? I can pay by line at a much cheaper rate.

But if I want Nolan North to do a voice that isn't just Drake? Then I am paying him to train a new model and it gets a lot more expensive. And I can pay more to "own" that training data with the same caveats regarding future use. The main idea being that I want to make sure my Nolan North performance doesn't end up in a competitor's game next week.


I love how upset people get about things like this

Your coffee is made by enslaved children and people shrug

Your clothes were made in a sweatshop and people shrug

Your music is owned by corporate monsters who impose absurd copyright to steal culture from those that live in it and people shrug

A theoretical voice actor misses out on a small role and you go wild calling for boycotts and making unhinged tweets at the company?

Very weird priorities.

Almost like it's totally unserious and nothing but self Important performative nonsense.


I feel like "The world sucks" is a poor argument for making it worse.


Almost like it's totally unserious and nothing but self Important performative nonsense.

This should be the new tagline for social media


It was crazy how swiftly media moved to present tons of reasons to hate AI.

It really made me realize how the people with this strongest opinions have been given those opinions by media that they don't even realize is a form of media.


we're pretty good at exploring dystopian sci-fi and don't want to end up there ourselves

Melvin_Ferd , edited

I always think its the other way around. Some author writes a scary possibility about some topic that scared them but they don't know a lot about. So like a book about a massive bedron impactor creates mini black holes that eats everything it touches. Book becomes popular and in ten years the LHC has some breakthrough but the zeitgeist was already established and people find all the reasons the cool ass tech is really going to be he worst thing ever.

deweydecibel , edited

The technology was created to replace voice actors. That's the actual purpose. Its very existence hurts their profession and benefits studios. You can not be a studio, use this technology, and claim to care about ethics, anymore than Amazon can claim to care about the workers as it invests in the machines to replace them.

No one is holding a gun to their head forcing them to us AI. They made a choice. There is no "ethical" way to cripple the livelihood of working class people for the benefit of your business. Just stop using the word.

It doesn't matter if you compensate or get their approval, because the fact is the existence of the technology in the industry effectively compels all voice actors to agree to let it use their voice, or they can't get work. It becomes a false choice.

If there was no financial benefit, if it truly made no difference in how much a studio pays in labor or the amount the artists make, there would be no reason for studios to want to use it.


Technology making labour obsolete is the goal we should all be wanting.

Attack capitalism not the technology.


In practice, capitalism will use technology to subjugate others instead of allowing technology to free us from work.


Yes, as long as people keep focusing on fighting the technology instead of fighting capitalism, this is true.

So we can fight the technology and definitely lose, only to see our efforts subverted to further entrench capitalism and subjugate us harder (hint: regulation on this kind of thing disproportionately affects individuals while corporations carve out exceptions for themselves because 'it helps the economy')...

Or we can embrace the technology and try to use it to fight capitalism, at which point there's at least a chance we might win, since the technology really does have the potential to overcome capitalism if and only if we can spread it far enough and fast enough that it can't be controlled or contained to serve only the rich and powerful.


True, but it's not quite working out that way is it?


That's kind of the point though isn't it? It's not the car's fault we can't afford the gas. We need to stop arguing about the ethics of using AI and start arguing about the ethics of the people using it unethically.

There is a person in that studio that suggested using AI, there is a person who gave the go ahead to do it. Those people need to be the problem, not the toy they decided to play with.


That said, this choice wasn't actually a problem right?

I mean this game doesn't use voice actors normally. If they used ai voice actors for this update only to represent the ai characters... isn't that just appropriate?

Previously all characters in this game were represented only by text, so literally nobody is being replaced here.

Another way to think about it would be via representation. We get worked up when an ethnic character on screen is played by a different ethnicity, an actor in blackface for example. And in that vein using ai for organic characters could be seen as offensive, but using ai for ai characters would not. In contrast could we see using human voices for ai characters to be insensitive? That may sound far fetched, but this is sci-fi, the ai characters in the game are fully sentient and in their fictional universe would have rights, the whole point is to make the player think about what that means.

Well I guess I have my takeaway, I may consider boycotting any game that uses human actors for ai characters. Just get an ai actor... seriously.


Honestly, I'd argue that that's exactly what AI should be for. Either being used by that one guy to give voices to his passion project because he can't afford to hire voice actors, or to add a touch of the uncanny to an AI character.


That's a very naive perspective though. We're not blaming the guns for gun violence, it's the people, but restricting access to guns is still the proven way to reduce gun incidents. One day when everyone is enlightened enough to not need such restrictions then we can lift them but we're very far from that point, and the same goes for tools like "AI".


you’re gonna have a bad time restricting software


The technology is magnifying the flaws in capitalism


yea, see i just don't like how we first automated creativity instead of like, idk, manual labor????


Manual labor has been being automated since the industrial revolution.


Okay but I still have to fold my own laundry.


And do you wash your clothes in a bucket, wring them out in a mangler before beating your rugs with a stick to get the dust out of them?


And people still have to lift heavy shit, crawl around in dangerous spaces and generally harm their health to make a living.


claim to care about the workers as it invests in the machines to replace them.

A company that invests in UBI could make that claim!

Obviously Amazon doesn't do that now. But I could see it happening when people stop being able to buy their junk


Do you have any source for those claims? There are plenty of better reasons to develop voice synthesis than replacing voice actors.


Voiced characters that use generative AI in real time instead of prerecorded lines and a dialogue tree come to mind as an obvious use. How cool would that be, to be playing an RPG and ask any character any question you want and get an actual verbal answer? No way you can do that with voice actors.


Ever seen the game Vaudeville? It's a fairly basic detective game but all the characters have their own LLM and AI voices. I bought it for the reason you described. I just had to see the technology in action and I can definitely see a future with generative text/voices in games.

It's not perfect by any means but I think it's a very cool approach to a detective game. There have been updates to it since I played that address most of the problems I had with it like characters forgetting past conversations and giving conflicting info.


I had spitballed an idea similar to this a few months back. Build the characters, world, and situations, and give the AI that information. Pick a few specific pieces of info the AI would have to tell you at specific times, basically to act as guide rails. Then, let the AI and the player just... Interact.


That's pretty much Vaudeville. The only things you can do is click on locations and talk to people, each of whom has some bit of information you need to figure out.

It's basically an experiment to see what works and what doesn't with the idea. I appreciate that they kept the scope small (no quests, no WASD movement) and have been implementing changes as they discover the shortfalls (like the ones I've mentioned). If it ever does get released as a finished game, it'll be more like a proof of concept for other games to build off of.


Depends how much you're willing to spend


I find it to be very off putting that Baldur’s Gate 3 doesn’t have voice actors for the main character.

There are so many different races that would have different voices and different accents that it wouldn’t be financially viable to do that with voice actors either.


They originally did for the beta (for origin characters at least) but the players didn't really like it so the feature was removed


The only real ethical concern is around the training data. If all voices are compensated / actively consent to be used in an AI program, then this is just a tool. People losing jobs doesn't really matter to an individual company. Industries change and technology advances.

So the real problem is they are using these types of tools, built of the skill of other voice actors, without properly compensating them or getting their consent.


I have an idea for the practice that could help us better explore practical uses. Basically, a company may train an AI off an actor’s voice, but that actor retains full non-transferable ownership/control of any voices generated from that AI.

So, if a game is premiering a new game mode that needs 15 new lines from a character, but their actor is busy drinking Captain Morgan in their pool, the company can generate those 15 lines from AI, but MUST have a communication with the actor where they approve the lines, and agree on a price for them.

It would allow for dynamic voice moments in a small capacity, and keep actors in business. It would still need some degree of regulation to ensure no one pushes gross incentives.


Congratulations you essentially described what Stellaris devs did.


Old man yells at cloud


What's the point of bringing up "ethics?" The job only existed in the first place because of technology, and now people want to argue that there is a right or wrong aspect to it?

How about the poor candle makers or buggy whip manufacturers? Should we keep downgrading society just to keep a few "artists" happy?


The term Luddite comes to mind.

novibe , edited

Luddites were not anti-technology. They saw the progress of technology IN a primitive capitalist system and understood that technology would never benefit them, and always be used to subjugate them more.

If technology only benefits 0.1% of the world, and leads to the world dying, does it benefit humanity at all?

GBU_28 , edited

The concern is that the training and potentially production voices are not properly compensated or consenting

It's not so much that a new tool is used, it's that it exists due to the artistic product of people who aren't profiting from the novel use

A job coming or going isn't the true issue


Downgrading because we want people to stay employed?


More importantly, the system we all accept (willingly or not) requires that people be employed to survive.

It's not a matter of wanting to be employed, as needing to be employed.


Then let's go back to ploughing our fields by hand, surely that will create many new employment opportunities!


Eh, we weren't paying for that back in the day anyway.


Good to see you have formed a strong opinion without having all of the information.


Still waiting for them to fix their game and not produce even more DLCs


what is broken in stellaris


My mid game builds 😢


Skill issue




From my experience, nothing. I’m not sure what the guy is complaining about.

  • They changed the keybindings without giving you the ability to edit keybindings yourself
  • The performance is bad
  • The game speed is linked to framerate and the longer your run is, the slower your game runs
  • The former point results in players in multiplayer getting kicked because of synchronization issues
  • Many minor bugs such as science ships getting trapped at one planet because they cant ever finish surveying them
  • DLCs being absolutely overpriced sometimes
  • Mechanics being absolutely unbalanced

I bought the game on release and played the game for over 700 hours since and I had to witness many patches that introduced so many bugs


Performance is tied to pops. Easy to get around by using a smaller galaxy, still bad yes but solvable.


Not saying you’re wrong but it’s funny that you’re disparaging a game that you’ve played for 700 hours.


I love the game and at times I couldn't stop playing. The more it got patched the more issues I had with it and I haven't played in a while. Still waiting for Falling Frontier to be released :)


I have around 700 hours in CK3 and feel the same pain you do

nutsack , edited

that's the type of player you want an analysis from, right?

Armok: God of Blood

I've played 1,300 hours of Destiny 2. I basically wrote my graduate thesis on how it uses psychological tactics to exploit its playerbase and how contemporary business models in gaming are harmful to consumers. Anyways, I gotta grind out my red borders before TFS drops.

cooljacob204 , edited

Late game performance and dsyncs comes to mind.


Have any of the involved voice actors confirmed the claims made in the article? I've seen multiple articles on this game, and the only quotes are from the game's director.

So far I've only seen one side claim this is ethical. That's not enough.