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New Amazon Alexa feature can mimic people's voices, including the dead

Amazon has revealed a new feature of Alexa which allows it to emulate the voices of other people, even those who have passed away.

@AdamHuntTT
Published Jun 24, 2022 4:54 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Jul 19 2022 8:09 AM CDT

The new feature was unveiled during the Re:Mars conference held by Amazon in Las Vegas on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022.

New Amazon Alexa feature can mimic people's voices, including the dead 01 | TweakTown.com

Amazon is currently developing the ability of Alexa to emulate a person's voice while needing less than a minute of recorded audio to do so. This will supposedly imbue Alexa with more "human attributes of empathy and affect," improving interactions with the virtual assistant. The main hurdle to developing the feature arises from having to learn how to create a "high-quality voice" with only snippets of audio, presumably collected by Alexa itself, instead of hours of studio recordings.

"These attributes have become even more important during the ongoing pandemic when so many of us have lost ones that we love. While AI can't eliminate that pain of loss, it can definitely make their memories last," said Rohit Prasad, the senior vice president and head scientist for Alexa, at the event.

Played at the event was a video featuring a young child, in which they ask, "Alexa, can Grandma finish reading me the Wizard of Oz?" Alexa grants the child's request by assuming the voice of the child's grandmother to continue reading the book in her voice. However, while Amazon pushes to develop the feature for Alexa, Microsoft is proceeding more cautiously regarding the voice emulation technology.

"This technology has exciting potential in education, accessibility, and entertainment, and yet it is also easy to imagine how it could be used to inappropriately impersonate speakers and deceive listeners," said Natasha Crampton, who heads Microsoft's AI ethics division, in a blog post.

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Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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