Amazon's Creepy New Alexa Skill Could Be Mimicking Dead Relatives' Voices

A company vice president said its ability to use voices on its Alexa devices is part of "living in the golden era of AI."
Amazon Alexa, who can speak through products such as the Echo Dot shown here, could mimic the voice of a departed relative.
Amazon Alexa, who can speak through products such as the Echo Dot shown here, could mimic the voice of a departed relative.
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Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is set to mimic the voices of the dead, according to Rohit Prasad, Amazon senior vice president and hHead scientist for Alexa.

Prasad, during the company’s re:MARS conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday, described Alexa’s capability to “synthesize short audio clips” and create speech from them, TechCrunch reported.

In his speech, Prasad discussed how a dead grandmother’s voice could be used to read their surviving child a story at night, according to TechCrunch.

“This required inventions where we had to learn to produce a high-quality voice with less than a minute of recording versus hours of recording in the studio,” Prasad said.

“The way we made it happen is by framing the problem as a voice conversion task and not a speech generation path. We are unquestionably living in the golden era of AI, where our dreams and science fictions are becoming a reality.”

Details are unclear as to when the company will introduce the technology to Alexa, Reuters reported, but Prasad said its goal is to “make memories last,” considering the millions who have lost loved ones in the COVID-19 pandemic.

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