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Amazon’s Alexa could turn dead loved ones’ voices into digital assistant | Amazon Alexa


Amazon plans to let folks flip their useless family members’ voices into digital assistants, with the corporate promising the power to “make the reminiscences final”.

The corporate is growing know-how that may enable its Alexa digital assistant to imitate the voice of anybody it hears from lower than a minute of offered audio, Rohit Prasad, its senior vice-president and head scientist, mentioned on Wednesday. He added that throughout the coronavirus paramedic “so many people have misplaced somebody we love”.

Whereas no timescale was given for the launch of the characteristic, the underlying know-how has existed for a number of years. The corporate gave an indication the place the reanimated voice of an older girl was used to learn her grandson a bedtime story, after he requested Alexa: “Can grandma end studying me the Wizard of Oz?”

Prasad mentioned: “The way in which we made it occur is by framing the issue as a voice conversion activity and never a speech technology path.”

Past the preliminary demonstration, particulars had been scarce. The know-how was introduced on the firm’s re:Mars convention, specializing in its “ambient computing” achievements within the realms of machine studying, automation, robots and area.

Amazon’s intention for its voice assistant is “generalisable intelligence”, Prasad added, contrasting it with “all-knowing, all-capable, uber-artificial common intelligence” of science fiction.

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However different know-how corporations have been deliberate about making digital voice-doubles really easy to provide: hours earlier than Amazon introduced its plans, Microsoft printed new synthetic intelligence (AI) ethics guidelines that might put strict limits on who might create artificial voices and the way they may very well be used. “It’s … straightforward to think about the way it may very well be used to inappropriately impersonate audio system and deceive listeners,” mentioned Natasha Crampton, the corporate’s chief accountable AI officer.

Microsoft would require corporations to use for permission to make synthetic voices, and final month started watermarking them with an inaudible sign that might enable it to establish misuse.

The idea of utilizing AI to revive the useless – or seem to – just isn’t a brand new one, even exterior the realm of science fiction. In 2020, Joshua Barbeau educated a model of the GPT-3 chatbot on dialog logs along with his late fiancee Jessica, who had died eight years earlier. And in 2018, Eugenia Kuyda constructed a chatbot out of her accomplice Roman Mazurenko’s previous textual content messages. “I did not anticipate it to be as impactful. Normally I discover exhibiting feelings and fascinated about grief actually laborious so I used to be largely attempting to keep away from it. Speaking to Roman’s avatar was going through these demons,” she mentioned on the time.

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