The Public Domain Review

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“You Are My Friend”: Early Androids and Artificial Speech

Wednesday 29 May 2024 at 16:27

Centuries before audio deepfakes and text-to-speech software, inventors in the eighteenth century constructed androids with swelling lungs, flexible lips, and moving tongues to simulate human speech. Jessica Riskin explores the history of such talking heads, from their origins in musical automata to inventors’ quixotic attempts to make machines pronounce words, converse, and declare their love.