Amazon’s Alexa could soon imitate the voice of dead relatives to bring more “human qualities” to the tech

LAS VEGAS — Amazon’s Alexa could soon replicate the voice of family members — even if they’re dead.

The feature, which was unveiled at Amazon’s Re:Mars conference in Las Vegas, is under development and would allow the virtual assistant to mimic a specific person’s voice based on a recording provided in less than a minute.

Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and chief scientist for Alexa, said at Wednesday’s event that the desire behind the feature is to build more trust in users’ interactions with Alexa by leveraging more “human qualities like empathy and affect.” will.

“These qualities have become even more important during the ongoing pandemic as so many of us have lost loved ones,” Prasad said. “While AI can’t erase that pain of loss, it can definitely make her memories last.”

SEE ALSO: Amazon Alexa Encouraged 10-Year-Olds to Try Dangerous ‘Outlet’ TikTok Challenge, Mom Says

In a video played by Amazon at the event, a young child asks, “Alexa, can grandma finish reading The Wizard of Oz for me?” Alexa then acknowledges the request and switches to a different voice that mimics the child’s grandmother. The voice assistant then continues reading the book in the same voice.

To create the feature, Prasad said, the company had to learn how to create a “quality voice” with a shorter recording, as opposed to hours of recording in a studio. Amazon hasn’t provided any further details on this feature, which is bound to raise more privacy concerns and ethical questions about consent.

Amazon’s push comes as competitor Microsoft said earlier this week that it would scale back its synthetic voice offerings and set stricter policies to “ensure active participation of the speaker,” whose voice is being replicated. Microsoft said Tuesday it limits which customers can use the service — while still highlighting acceptable uses, such as: B. An interactive Bugs Bunny character in AT&T stores.

“This technology has exciting potential in the fields of education, accessibility and entertainment, yet it’s also easy to imagine how it could be used to improperly impersonate a speaker and deceive listeners,” reads a blog post by Natasha Crampton, head of Microsoft’s AI ethics department.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

https://abc13.com/alexa-mimic-voice-amazon-dead-relatives-device/11990581/ Amazon’s Alexa could soon imitate the voice of dead relatives to bring more “human qualities” to the tech

Dais Johnston

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