Best of AP — Honorable Mention


Illness took away her voice. AI created a replica she carries in her phone

Alexis Bogan, whose speech was impaired by a brain tumor, uses an AI powered smartphone app to create a audible drink order at a Starbucks drive-thru on Monday, April 29, 2024, in Lincoln, R.I. The app converts her typed entries into a verbal message created using her original voice. AP PHOTO / STEVEN SENNE

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Technology reporter Matt O’Brien fought through the negative chaff about artificial intelligence voice-cloning technology to find a story about a team of Rhode Island doctors who helped a patient regain her voice using the technology.

While sourcing for more OpenAI news, O’Brien realized the voice-cloning pilot project was in his backyard. He reached out to a Rhode Island hospital and made a case for telling the story of a patient who could share her experience of regaining her voice through artificial intelligence.

Alexis Bogan, 21, emerged from brain surgery last year unable to speak fluently and felt like she lost part of her identity. Working with a team of Rhode Island doctors, she is now able to summon a clone of her voice generated by artificial intelligence from an app on her phone.

Videographer Rodrique Ngowi, photographer Steve Senne and freelance photographer Josh Reynolds helped illustrate Bogan’s interactions with her doctors and in her daily life. The exclusive story package was widely used. NBC News directly highlighted it on its digital properties and used large swaths of AP video for a story. O’Brien also was interviewed about it on the evening programming.

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