The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has started accepting submissions for its Voice Cloning Challenge, a public competition with a $25,000 top prize for ideas that protect consumers from the danger of AI-enabled voice cloning used for fraudulent activity.
Announced in mid-November, the Challenge seeks solutions to counter the misuse of increasingly sophisticated voice cloning technology made possible by advancements in AI-powered text-to-speech systems. Voice cloning uses audio samples of a target’s voice to train AI models to generate convincing impersonations.
While voice cloning has legitimate applications, threat actors can also weaponize it for fraudulent voice phishing, social engineering, and other voice-based scams. By impersonating familiar voices, criminals can more easily trick victims into believing false claims.
“This technology poses a significant risk: families and small businesses can be targeted with fraudulent extortion scams; creative professionals, such as voice artists, can have their voices misappropriated in ways that threaten their livelihoods and deceive the public,” the FTC said.
Through the Challenge, the FTC aims to explore defensive solutions that can reliably detect instances of AI-enabled voice cloning. The agency calls it “an exploratory challenge” that could provide direction for risk mitigation efforts around generative AI technology.
The winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize, with a $4,000 prize for the runner-up. Up to three honorable mention prizes of $2,000 each are also available.
Submissions opened January 2nd via a portal on the FTC website. Ideas will be accepted for 10 days, until January 12 at 8:00 PM EST. Entries must include a 1-page overview and a detailed 10-page description of the proposed solution. Participants can also submit video demonstrations.
Submissions will be judged on practical feasibility, impact on corporate accountability, consumer burden, and resilience to future AI advancements.
Even if the Challenge fails to produce a robust defense, the FTC says it will serve as an early warning for policymakers on the potential dangers of AI voice cloning technology and may highlight the need for stricter regulations.