Alexa could turn dead loved ones’ voices into digital assistant

Arathi Nair
Arathi Nair June 23, 2022
Updated 2022/06/23 at 5:24 PM

The company Amazon promises to “make the memories last” by allowing users to turn the voices of their deceased loved ones into digital assistants using Alexa.

Rohit Prasad, the company’s senior vice-president and lead scientist, said that the business is working on technology that will enable its Alexa digital assistant to replicate the voice of anyone it hears from less than a minute of given audio. “So many of us have lost someone we love,” he continued, “during the coronavirus paramedic.”

The feature’s launch date was not specified, but the underlying technology has been around for a while. After a young boy asked Alexa to finish reading him The Wizard of Oz, the business performed a demonstration in which the voice of an elderly woman was utilized to read her grandson a bedtime story.

The key was conceptualizing the issue as a voice conversion effort rather than a speech generation path, according to Prasad.

There were little specifics after the initial demonstration. According to Prasad, Amazon’s goal for its voice assistant is “generalizable intelligence,” as opposed to science fiction’s “all-knowing, all-capable, uber-artificial general intelligence.”

However, other tech firms have expressed caution about making digital voice-doubles so simple to produce. For example, Microsoft published new artificial intelligence (AI) ethics rules that would place strict restrictions on who could create synthetic voices and how they could be used, hours before Amazon revealed its plans. Natasha Crampton, the company’s chief responsible AI officer, stated that it is “simple to envisage how it may be used to inappropriately imitate speakers and trick listeners.”

There are two perspectives to this news, this could be misused, allowing people to use the voice of celebrities or other people without their consent. This could also be a neat way for Amazon to get around having to pay celebrities to lend their voice to Alexa.

While on the other hand it could help users feel closer to their missed ones. The launch date for the new feature and its availability to the general public have not yet been disclosed by Amazon.

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