Adobe unveiled Project Voco, the "Photoshop of speech." It will allow users to edit existing speech and convert it into any words they wish.
At a live demo in San Diego on Thursday, Adobe took a digitized recording of a man saying "and I kissed my dogs and my wife" and changed it to say "and I kissed Jordan three times."
"We have already revolutionized photo editing. Now it's time for us to do the audio stuff," said Adobe's Zeyu Jin to applause.
Many people are predictably worried that people will misuse it.
"Think about watermarking detection," said Jin, referring to the use of an embedded marker to indicate that the recording has been edited.
Think about sophisticated software which will remove the watermarking.
Not to mention the fact that Adobe is the company which just paid a $1 million fine for a data breach and is always playing catch-up with respect to vulnerabilities in Flash and Reader. Flash is so susceptible to malware that it is being replaced by HTML5. Adobe is hardly a company to trust with respect to robust software.
Think about the things people will be able to do with this invention.
Many people will use it for pranks. Take, for example, the case of a 16-year-old who received death threats after he was falsely accused of attacking a pensioner. People will take it even more seriously with an apparently authentic voice recording.
A more serious prank is swatting, calling 911 and falsely reporting a violent crime in progress using the name and address of someone who has no idea that the police, perhaps even a SWAT team, will soon be knocking at his door. Swattings will be much more believable using Project Voco.
Shady attorneys will use it to get their clients acquitted, possibly by shifting the blame to someone else.
Revenge porn, already almost impossible to get removed from the Internet, will become much more widespread, with the victims now appearing to say outrageous things while naked.
More non-Muslims will be accused of "insulting Islam" and murdered shortly thereafter. It's already common for those who dislike their neighbors to falsely accuse them of blasphemy simply to punish them for perceived slights or to acquire their property. Cartoonists won't be the only ones in need of police protection.
The biggest use may be in the area of politics. Since many people believe anything that reinforces their preexisting opinions, they will never accept that a politician never actually spoke certain words. The only question will be whether these new infomercials are seen on television or only on the Internet.
The fact that something can be done does not mean it should be done.