The Argentine actor who lost his job to artificial intelligence: I fear for my future

City says 7,000 summer jobs are available for Boston youth ages 14 to 18

The year started quietly for Alejandro Grau.

The Argentine voice-over and dubbing actor has been looking forward to working on several projects. In one, he was hired to dub in Spanish for a YouTube channel with millions of subscribers.

Graue has been working on this project since November and has turned down other jobs because this work is too demanding.

But after a short vacation, things went south. While watching YouTube, he saw that the channel had uploaded a new video in Spanish.

“I thought it was strange because they hadn’t called me to record it yet,” he told Euronews.

When he pressed play and listened to the recording, he was shocked. The sound is generated by artificial intelligence.

“It was a robotic sound,” Grau said, “and it had no richness, no nuance, no rhythm. The enunciation was quite mechanical.”

In just a few months, artificial intelligence has shaken up the job market, with thousands of panicked professionals wanting to curb or regulate the technology. The 36-year-old Argentine actor is one of them, as he fears it will end his career.

“Hearing this synthetic voice in the video had a huge impact on me,” says Grau. “I fear for my future. Dubbing has been my job for the past 18 years and I have two young daughters now.”

Sent an email to the company after watching the video and they confirmed that they didn’t need it for audio dubbing.

“I can’t count on this money anymore. Now I’m afraid of losing all the projects I’m working on.”

Within weeks of uploading the AI-generated videos, YouTubers started complaining. They found the sound “awful” and felt it was difficult to understand.

“This certainly had an impact because the channel deleted the last videos that were produced with artificial sound, but so far I have not been approached to work on this again,” Graoui told Euronews.

The representative believes that the software used must be free or low cost because “the sound quality was very bad”.

His remarks open up another aspect of the debate: whether cost-saving companies can swap their workforces for AI, without sacrificing something else.

However, he added, “What’s indisputable is that we’ll never be able to compete with it in terms of time. You give this technology a script and in five minutes it’s processed and voiced. The only thing left is to do one last reveal.”

double-edged sword

Despite the uncertainty, there’s still no clear stand on how AI will affect human jobs, plus many experts wonder if the dreaded mass replacement will actually happen.

“Like any technical advance, it has a double advantage. It can be very useful and also cause problems,” said Guillermo Semari, a professor of artificial intelligence and computational logic at Universidad Nacional del Sur de Bahia Blanca in Argentina.

“However, in the foreseeable future, this technology is not expected to replace all jobs.”

For him, there is nothing new in the process of replacing people with machines, because it is a common pattern repeated throughout history. The first example is the invention of the automobile.

“If we had asked people at the time what they wanted before the automobile was invented, the answer would have been faster horses. Many people have lost their jobs, but they have found supplemental jobs.”

The problem nowadays is that the risk is greater. Artificial intelligence no longer replaces physical functions, but also intellectual tasks – those that until now were performed only by the human brain.

For the first time in history, creative professionals are collectively being threatened and having their work seen by machines.

“If this technology is free to use, they can work with synthetic voices and take every radio job without paying people, since there is no copyright,” says the Argentine actor.

“When you look at the job market, thousands of jobs can be lost from one day to the next, among them sound artists and animators,” he adds.

From specialization to generalization

The question many experts are asking is to what extent should society accept the mass automation of all jobs?

For both Graue and Simari, the ideal future would be for humans and artificial intelligence to be able to complement each other while working.

“One cannot try to keep the current jobs,” says Semari. “What we need to do is educate society so that it can adapt to change in the most effective way possible.”

He adds, “In the last 100 years, there has been a race towards specialization in knowledge. We will have to shift towards generalization of knowledge rather than this specialization.”

Currently, the Argentine actor is looking for new projects to continue doing the job he loves.

He has nothing against a YouTube channel that decided to replace his voice with a synthetic one, but he does call for regulation.

“At the very least, we should try to use AI to our advantage, so that it improves our work rather than replaces us.”