The Linux Foundation Leads Charge for Voice Tech Standards

The Linux Foundation — along with Microsoft, Target, Veritone and other companies — has launched the Open Voice Network (OVN) in order to “prioritize trust and standards” in voice-focused technology. Open Voice Network executive director Jon Stine said the impetus is the tremendous growth of voice assistance for AI-enabled devices and its future potential as an interface and data source. Linux Foundation senior vice president Mike Dolan said the effort is a “proactive response to combating deepfakes in AI-based voice technology.”

ZDNet reports Dolan added that, “voice is expected to be a primary interface to the digital world, connecting users to billions of sites, smart environments and AI bots.” “Key to enabling enterprise adoption of these capabilities and consumer comfort and familiarity is the implementation of open standards,” he said.

In addition to the above-named companies, the Linux Foundation is working with Schwarz Gruppe, Wegmans Food Markets and Deutsche Telekom. Veritone co-founder and president Ryan Steelberg said that “self-regulation of synthetic voice content creation” is “foundational,” protecting the voice owner and establishing consumer trust.

“The Open Voice Network emerged from 2016-2018 research on the potential of AI-enabled voice assistance conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Auto-ID Laboratory, Capgemini Consulting, and the Intel Corporation,” according to the OVN About page. “In late 2018, seed funding was provided to initiate research into voice assistance technologies and potential standards, and to develop The Open Voice Network.”

In addition to “delivering standards and usage guidelines for voice assistant systems that are trustworthy, inclusive and open,” notes ZDNet, OVN will also “provide guidance on voice-specific protection of user privacy and data security and ways to make voice assistants interoperable between platforms.”

The Linux Foundation “compared the effort to the open standards that were introduced in the earliest days of the Internet, noting that those initiatives helped create uniform ways for websites to connect and exchange information.”

Voice assistants rely on technologies that include “Automatic Speech Recognition, Natural Language Processing, Advanced Dialog Management and machine learning.” Stine reported that, although one in every four U.S. adults owns a smart speaker, “studies have shown that almost all smartphone users will be using some form of voice assistant within the next two years.”

Meanwhile, VentureBeat reports that, “the Linux Foundation has announced a new permissive license designed to help foster collaboration around open data for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) projects.” Its CDLA-Permissive-2.0 license is “essentially a rewrite of version 1.0 but shorter and simpler to follow.” It’s based on the 2017 Community Data License Agreement (CDLA) to encourage “organizations to open up their vast pools of (underused) data to third parties.”

The sharing license with a “copyleft” reciprocal commitment … stipulate[es] that any derivative datasets built from the original dataset must be shared under a similar license, and a permissive license (1.0) without any such obligations in place.”

Version 1.0 required that data recipients “preserve attribution notices in the datasets,” but the Linux Foundation said that, “the community and lawyers representing companies involved in open data projects pointed to challenges around associating attributions with data (or versions of datasets).” Microsoft’s research arm already indicated it will make its open datasets “available under the new CDLA-Permissive-2.0 license.”