All it takes is a short recording for Alexa to speak in the voice of your deceased loved one

On Thursday, Rohit Prasad, senior vice president at Amazon, and lead scientist at Alexa, the e-commerce platform’s personal assistant, announced a new feature still in development and with no release date, but already causing skin reactions. . From a small recording, Alexa, from the Amazon Echo, will be able to “speak” with the voice of others, allowing the voices of loved ones who have died to continue to sound in the homes of their descendants.

At the re:MARS conference in Las Vegas, USA, Prasad presented the new feature as follows. “Even if artificial intelligence can’t eliminate the pain of loss, it can make the memories stick.”

And demonstrated through a video in which someone asked Alexa to finish reading “The Wizard of Oz”. The voice that read the book, she said, was not Alexa’s familiar robotic voice, but rather the digitally recreated voice of this now-missing grandmother, as described by “NPR”. To do that, Prasad said, Amazon had to “learn how to produce a high-quality voice in less than a minute of recording.”

Quoted by NPR, Arizona State University computer science professor Subbarao Kambhampati said this is a “good reminder that we can’t trust our own ears in these times”, at a time when deep fakes are starting every increasingly being used to manipulate the masses.

And he draws attention to the “ethical issues” of “doing this without the missing person’s authorization”, despite recognizing that this type of technology, “in the same way that we see videos of those who died”, can help with mourning. .

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