Amazon has revealed an experimental Alexa characteristic that enables the AI assistant to imitate the voices of customers’ useless family members.

The corporate demoed the characteristic at its annual MARS convention, displaying a video by which a toddler asks Alexa to learn a bedtime story within the voice of his useless grandmother.

“As you noticed on this expertise, as a substitute of Alexa’s voice studying the e book, it’s the child’s grandma’s voice,” stated Rohit Prasad, Amazon’s head scientist for Alexa AI. Prasad launched the clip by saying that including “human attributes” to AI programs was more and more vital “in these occasions of the continued pandemic, when so many people have misplaced somebody we love.”

“Whereas AI can’t get rid of that ache of loss, it may possibly undoubtedly make their recollections final,” stated Prasad. You possibly can watch the demo itself beneath:

Amazon has given no indication whether or not this characteristic will ever be made public, however says its programs can study to mimic somebody’s voice from only a single minute of recorded audio. In an age of plentiful movies and voice notes, this implies it’s nicely inside the common client’s attain to clone the voices of family members — or anybody else they like.

Though this particular utility is already controversial, with customers on social media calling the characteristic “creepy” and a “monstrosity,” such AI voice mimicry has grow to be more and more widespread in recent times. These imitations are sometimes referred to as “audio deepfakes” and are already frequently utilized in industries like podcasting, movie and TV, and video video games.

Many audio recording suites, for instance, provide customers the choice to clone particular person voices from their recordings. That method, if a podcast host flubs her or his line, for instance, a sound engineer can edit what they’ve stated just by typing in a brand new script. Replicating traces of seamless speech requires numerous work, however very small edits could be made with a number of clicks.

The identical expertise has been utilized in movie, too. Final 12 months, it was revealed {that a} documentary in regards to the lifetime of chef Anthony Bourdain, who died in 2018, used AI to clone his voice with a view to learn quotes from emails he despatched. Many followers have been disgusted by the appliance of the expertise, calling it “ghoulish” and “misleading.” Others defended the usage of the expertise as just like different reconstructions utilized in documentaries.

Amazon’s Prasad stated the characteristic might allow prospects to have “lasting private relationships” with the deceased, and it’s definitely true that many individuals world wide are already utilizing AI for this function. Folks have already created chatbots that imitate useless family members, for instance, coaching AI primarily based on saved conversations. Including correct voices to those programs — and even video avatars — is completely potential utilizing at present’s AI expertise, and is more likely to grow to be extra widespread.

Nonetheless, whether or not or not prospects will need their useless family members to grow to be digital AI puppets is one other matter completely.

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