Amazon touts Alexa voice feature that can imitate your deceased loved ones



Amazon has introduced a new experimental feature for its AI assistant Alexa, which allows the device to mimic the voice of a deceased relative. Shown at its annual MARS conference, a video showed Alexa reading a bedtime story with the voice of a deceased grandmother.

“As you saw in this experiment, instead of the voice of Alexa reading the book, it’s the voice of the child’s grandmother,” said Amazon’s chief scientist for Alexa. AI Rohit Prasad (via The edge). “While AI can’t take away that pain of loss, it can certainly make their memories last.”

Amazon says its system can mimic a voice with just one minute of audio recording, adding a layer of human element to its AI systems. The company has yet to confirm if this feature will ever be made public, but there are alternatives in use today in the film and television industry, known as audio deepfakes. For example, small verbal glitches in podcasts can be fixed with software that lets an audio engineer clone a voice and edit the line with an AI-generated replacement.

Prasad added that the feature could allow customers to have “lasting personal relationships” with deceased family members, and when combined with AI chatbots and video avatars, it’s a workable idea. Whether people are willing to have one-on-one conversations with virtual versions of deceased family members is a whole other question.

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