The Somatic Voice: Why AI Can't Capture the Nuance of Movement February 7, 2024 | 5 min Read

The Somatic Voice: Why AI Can't Capture the Nuance of Movement

Recently, I’ve experimented with artificial intelligence programs I coded myself in an attempt to answer the following question:

Could AI record good somatic education lessons?

Table Of Contents
Somatic education, with its focus on awareness through movement, relies on a deep connection between mind, body, and voice. While technology like AI text-to-speech (TTS) has made remarkable strides, it simply can’t capture the subtle nuances and human touch that are essential for effective somatic lessons. Let’s explore the pitfalls of using AI TTS in this delicate realm:

1. Loss of Perception and Interoception

Somatic exercises are more than just physical instructions; they involve guiding students to tune into their internal sensations and emotional responses. AI struggles to understand these subtle, subjective experiences and translate them into meaningful speech. A human instructor, however, can tap into their own embodied experience and adjust their tone, pacing, and even humor to resonate with students on a deeper level.

2. The Power of the Pause

Silence and pauses play a crucial role in somatic practice. It allows students to integrate new sensations, release tension, and connect with their inner world. AI, designed for efficient communication, often struggles with natural pauses, creating a rushed and potentially anxiety-inducing experience. A human instructor can intuitively incorporate meaningful pauses based on the group’s energy and individual needs.

3. The Nuance of Human Expression

AI-generated speech often falls flat, lacking the emotional inflections and vocal variations that hold our attention and convey meaning. Imagine the difference between a monotone robot reading instructions and a passionate guide encouraging you to explore your physical sensations. The human voice carries a depth of experience and connection that AI simply cannot replicate.

I am aware that there are systems which allow you to add natural sounding inflections and interjections such as laughing, uhm and other human idyosincracies. However, these fall flat with the same problems and limits. They only work on 30 second clips and as we’re accustomed, require human intervention.

Glitches in the Machine

While AI TTS has improved since the 1995’s, it’s prone to technical glitches and unnatural sounds mid-sentence. These disruptions can pull students out of their mindful state and disrupt the flow of the lesson. Imagine waiting 20 minutes for an the AI to complete recording a 30 minute lesson, and having to listen to the lesson and to find out that for a long part it blabbered, cried, stated laughing or did a variety of sounds which make you think “this is crazy”. Conversely, a human instructor can seamlessly adapt to unexpected changes and maintain the learning space.

Lost Beyond 5 Minutes

Most AI TTS platforms struggle with longer audio recordings, exceeding the 5-minute limit leads to a variety of issues. Somatic sessions often benefit from extended guided meditations or explorations, which AI is currently incapable of delivering no matter how much tweaking goes on.

The human voice holds a power that AI cannot replicate. It conveys empathy, understanding, and the ability to adapt to individual needs in real-time. In the delicate world of somatic education, where subtle shifts in perception and awareness are paramount, it’s the human touch that guides students on their journey of embodied discovery.

Lost in Translation: The Pitfalls of AI Interpretation

In my quest to make Somatic Education lessons available worldwide I began experimenting with text to speech translation. Meaning that I write my text in English and that AI would translate it and record an audio in Spanish, German, French, Italian, Chinese, Dutch and other international languages. I was surprised to see that the translations where of an acceptable quality, however, not good enough to be considered lessons.

Somatic education relies heavily on precise language to guide students through subtle physical sensations and movements. But AI translation often lacks the human touch needed to accurately convey these delicate nuances. Sarcasm, humor, cultural variations and emotional undertones, crucial for engaging delivery, are often lost in the cold logic of algorithms when translating. Imagine learning a delicate movement while being instructed by unintended wrong directions which leave you puzzled – not exactly conducive to embodied learning.

The Body Whispers, AI Shouts: Failing to Capture Perception and Interoception

Somatic education emphasizes tuning into internal signals like proprioception (body awareness) and interoception (internal sensations). Human instructors, through experience and practice, understand these nuanced signals and can adjust cues accordingly. AI, lacking its own embodied experience, cannot replicate this understanding. It delivers generic instructions, missing the vital connection between verbal cues and the student’s unique internal landscape.

Yes, most times instructors teach a lesson from their memory, but AI just reads it word by word… It gets even worse when you ask AI to rewrite the lesson with it’s own words, you will get some movements which not even the most advanced yoga people could handle.

“But AI is evolving”

No matter how much I lower the speech rate, tweaked the settings or wrote highly specific code code for it, I always feel rushed through a lesson when read by AI. Even though I have coded a system to add breaks when it encounters a specific text, the whole process is manual and error prone. Meaning that a human (Andrei) needs to go through the text to add that code/text to tell the AI system what to do. This takes energy and time, and I had better recorded the lesson myself. Which is the antithesis of using automation..

Remember, Somatic Education is about more than just words; it’s about creating a safe space for self-exploration and transformation. In this space, the human voice remains the irreplaceable instrument for guiding students towards deeper understanding and well-being.

At LinSublim, even though we tried, we’ll still rely on humans for our recordings.

Photo by Frank Cone