Amazon has a plan to make Alexa mimic anyone's voice

Amazon has a plan to make Alexa mimic anyone’s voice

Amazon’s DOT Alexa device is shown inside a home in this illustration taken on October 1, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake/Illustration

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LAS VEGAS, June 22 (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) wants to give customers the opportunity to make Alexa, the company’s voice assistant, sound like their grandmother – or anyone else.

The online retailer is developing a system to allow Alexa to mimic any voice after listening to less than a minute of audio, Rohit Prasad, Amazon’s senior vice president, said at a conference the company held in Las Vegas on Wednesday. The goal is to “make memories last” after “so many of us have lost someone we love” during the pandemic, Prasad said.

Amazon declined to share when it would implement such a feature.

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The work delves into an area of ​​technology that has come under close scrutiny for potential benefits and abuses. For example, Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) recently restricted which companies could use its software to play voices like parrots. The goal is to help people with speech or other problems, but some worry it could also be used to spread political fakery. read more

Amazon hopes the project will help Alexa become ubiquitous in shoppers’ lives. But public attention has already shifted elsewhere. At Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O), an engineer made the highly controversial claim that a company chatbot had advanced intelligence. Another Amazon executive said Tuesday that Alexa had 100 million customers worldwide, in line with figures the company has provided on device sales since January 2019.

Prasad said Amazon’s goal for Alexa is “generalizable intelligence,” or the ability to adapt to users’ environments and learn new concepts with little outside input. He said the target is “not to be confused with all-knowing, all-capable super artificial general intelligence” or AGI, which is being pursued by Alphabet’s DeepMind unit and OpenAI, co-founded by Elon Musk.

Amazon shared its vision for partnership with Alexa at the conference. In one video segment, it featured a child asking, “Alexa, can Grandma finish reading the Wizard of Oz to me?”

A moment later, Alexa affirmed the command and changed her voice. She spoke soothingly, less robotically, ostensibly sounding like the guy’s real-life grandmother.

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Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in Las Vegas; Additional reporting by Paresh Dave; Edited by David Gregory

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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