Amazon Developing Tech That Will Allow Alexa To Replicate Dead Relative’s Voice

There are millions of households around the world that use smart speakers powered by Alexa to perform tasks like set alarms, shop for groceries online or perhaps even hear bedtime stories.

Credit: Amazon Alexa

The digital assistant has multiple voice options for you to choose from, including celebrity voices from the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal. However, Amazon seemingly wants to personalise the experience further by giving you the chance to hear the voice of a dead loved one again.


The e-commerce juggernaut is now working on a technology that will allow Alexa to replicate anyone’s voice, even that of your relatives who have since passed. All that the artificial intelligence (AI) will need is a one-minute recording of the person’s speech, and it’ll be able to replicate the voice when it answers your requests.


Amazon demonstrated the technology at its annual re:MARS conference in Las Vegas, showing a clip of a child asking Alexa to read him a bedtime story to the voice of his dead grandmother.

"While AI can't eliminate that pain of loss, it can definitely make their memories last," said Rohit Prasad, Senior Vice President and Head Scientist for Alexa, at the event.


"We are unquestionably living in the golden era of AI, where our dreams and science fiction are becoming a reality,” he added.


Amazon said the technology is still in development and doesn't know when, or even if, it will be rolled out to the public. But the demo did get social media abuzz, with some users finding the feature to be quite disturbing. The tech world has long been grappling with the ethical conundrums of advancing certain AI technology to replace or mimic human behaviour and interactions.


"As creepy as it might sound, it's a good reminder that we can't trust our own ears in this day and age," Subbarao Kambhampati, a professor of computer science at Arizona State University told NPR. "But the sooner we get used to this concept, which is still strange to us right now, the better we will be."

 
  • Amazon wants to personalise your Alexa experience by allowing the digital assistant to speak in the voice of your dead relatives.

  • All the artificial intelligence (AI) will need is a one-minute recording of the person’s speech, and it’ll be able to replicate the voice when it answers your requests.

  • The e-commerce company said the technology is still in development and doesn't know when, or even if, it will be rolled out to the public.

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