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Amazon showcases Alexa’s ability to imitate the voices of your deceased relatives

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The AI assistant Alexa now has the ability to replicate the sounds of customers’ deceased relatives’ thanks to a new capability that Amazon has made public.

At its annual MARS conference, the firm demonstrated the function by playing a video in which a young boy begs Alexa to read him a bedtime story in the voice of his deceased grandmother.

“As you saw in this experience, instead of Alexa’s voice reading the book, it’s the kid’s grandma’s voice,” said Rohit Prasad, Amazon’s head scientist for Alexa AI. Prasad introduced the clip by saying that adding “human attributes” to AI systems was increasingly important “in these times of the ongoing pandemic when so many of us have lost someone we love.”

“While AI can’t eliminate that pain of loss, it can definitely make their memories last,” said Prasad. 

Amazon says its systems can learn to duplicate someone’s voice from just one minute of recorded audio, but it has not indicated whether this function would ever be made available to the general public. This means that anyone can easily clone the voices of loved ones or other people they like in the age of readily available movies and voice notes.

Although users on social media have already criticized one particular application, calling the function “creepy” and a “monstrosity,” such AI voice impersonation has been more popular recently. These impersonations are frequently employed in fields including podcasting, film and television, and video games and are referred to as “audio deep fakes.”

Amazon’s Prasad said the feature could enable customers to have “lasting personal relationships” with the deceased. It is unquestionably true that many people already use AI for this reason. For instance, using AI trained on previously recorded conversations, people have already developed chatbots that mimic deceased family members. With today’s AI technology, adding accurate voices to these systems is perfectly doable, and even video avatars are expected to become more common.

A completely other question is whether or not people will choose to turn their deceased loved ones into digital AI puppets.Read more about this at theverge.com

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Andrew Sabestian is a tech whiz who is obsessed with everything technology. Basically, he's a software and tech mastermind who likes to feed readers gritty tech news to keep their techie intellects nourished.
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