You're right that it's Matthew!
And they do already exist, they just have the limitations I mentioned in the blog (glitchy, no playlists, not multi-platform, etc). Here are the ones I use for various purposes
Good idea! I'll add that to the list of things to do.
If we had to ask each person before converting their text to audio, it just wouldn’t feasibly happen. The way we thought about it was that >99.9% of people will be thrilled to have their writing read by more people. For the <0.01% who won’t, we made it easy for them to opt out, either for a particular article or for all their work. This way the whole community and hundreds of EAs can have access to great content and the <0.01% can also keep their writing in only written format.
This way everybody wins. :) I think the utilitarian case for it is strong.
Especially once it’s more known, people will know that if their post gets enough upvotes it’ll be converted, so they can request to not have it converted beforehand if they want. The potential harm is small and mitigated and the potential upside is huge.
I agree some posts will come out better in TTS than others. One thing we’re looking into doing is setting up some simple rules that will lead to some articles not being posted (e.g. a critical mass of images or numbers), or maybe a little disclaimer at the front of such articles along the lines of “This article has a lot of numbers in it, so you might want to consider reading the original at [Source]”.
Regardless, if ever anybody feels like the article has come out too bad to be net positive, they can fill out this form (t.ly/G73f) and we’ll remove it. Or, if you think in advance it’s not going to be good, just let us know (through the form or our contact form t.ly/YBIr) and we can make sure it never goes up. :)
Thanks for the thoughtful reply!
Re: google assistant, the way I use TTS is I queue up a lot of posts and listen to it while I’m getting ready in the morning or working out, etc, so having to select a new one each time would stop me from using it. Additionally I often am listening to long articles, so it losing my spot if I stopped listening wouldn’t work. Pocket has that glitch for me about 30% of the time, which is a huge reason I don’t use it.
Re: Speechify, I haven’t tried it! If somebody does and finds it good, please say so in the comments!
Re: Natural Reader, I do indeed pay. I found the 20 minutes a day limit prohibitive. I’d recommend it to other people if the cost isn’t too high for them and they’ll use it regularly. ($10/month).
Re: EA Forum podcast, I think there still could be use for that because lots of people will continue to have a strong preference for human voices. It would especially be useful for posts that are heavy in math or graphs which they would be able to describe out loud, like how the Astral Codex Ten podcast does it.
It’s a bot so it does it automatically. We figured since the vast majority of people will want to have their content read by more people that it made more sense to by default convert and let people opt out by filling out this form.
We’re not really planning on doing any moderation. In some rare cases we might decide to remove something if we consider it a very clear info hazard.
However, even if we convert pretty much all EA content, I doubt we’d ever remove a lower bar of at least 5 upvotes, which I think would allow the community itself to moderate as opposed to leaving it in our hands at Nonlinear.
Here it is! Spotify, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts. Or just search for it in your preferred podcasting app. We put it on all the biggest ones. Just let us know if it's not on one and it'll be easy enough for us to add it.
Added clarification at the top of the post to make it easier to find. :)
Yeah, they've gotten way better in the last year or so. A huge jump in quality.
I think a lot of people who were turned off by the robot-iness of TTS in the past should try again because they've come such a long way.
I loved this story. It did a great job of expressing how compassion feels.
This was my favorite line: “ to the boy who could hear the screams. Thank you for bringing them to our ears."