Amazon demonstrates Alexa mimicking the voice of a deceased relative

Amazon demonstrates Alexa mimicking the voice of a deceased relative

Amazon is devising a way for users to talk to family members through its Alexa voice assistant, even after they’ve died.

At Amazon’s Re:Mars conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and chief scientist for the Alexa team, detailed a feature that allows the voice assistant to replicate a specific human voice.

In a demo video, a child said, “Alexa, can Grandma finish reading the Wizard of Oz to me?”

Alexa confirmed the request in the default robotic voice, then immediately switched to a softer, more human tone, apparently mimicking the boy’s family member.

The Alexa team developed a model that allows its voice assistant to produce a high-quality voice with “less than a minute of recorded audio,” Prasad said.

The feature is currently under development, Prasad said. Amazon declined to say when the feature will be released to the public.

While the feature could apparently be used to replicate any voice, Prasad suggested it could help commemorate a deceased family member.

Making AI conversational and like a companion has become a key focus, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, when “so many of us have lost someone we love,” Prasad said.

“While AI can’t take away the pain of loss, it can definitely make memories last,” he added.

Amazon wants to make conversations with Alexa more natural in general and has released a number of features that allow its voice assistant to replicate more human dialogue and even ask users questions.

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