It’s not Black Mirror! Amazon will make Alexa speak with the voice of deceased people

Amazon is developing a technology based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) that rHe recovers the voice of deceased people and reproduces them through his virtual assistant, Alexa.

The company unveiled this work during the re:MARS conference, an event dedicated to machine learning and automation, where exhibited a demonstration of it.

The person in charge of making it known was the senior engineer Rohit Prasad, who assured that “one of the most surprising things about Alexa it is the relationship of companionship that we have with her”.

Prasad insisted that “in this companionship relationship, the human attributes of empathy and affection are key to generating trust” and that these have gained relevance as a result of the pandemic.

“Many of us have lost a loved one and while AI cannot take away the pain of loss, yes, you can make your memories last”, he pointed out.

Photo: Pixabay

So, he exposed a case in which a child who asks Alexa if his grandmother can finish reading ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to him. After receiving the ‘Okey’ from the assistant, you can hear the narration of a part of this book with a different female voice.

The manager stressed that this invention has required Amazon developers to learn to “produce a high-quality voice with less than a minute of recording versus hours of recording in the studio.” And he announced that, in order to work on it, they focused on this skill as a voice conversion task instead of generating that voice.

Prasad did not indicate when this technology will be available, although he insisted that, for now, the company is working on it.

This is not the first time that a large company has worked on a system of these characteristics so that users can chat with deceased people. Microsoft, for example, registered a patent last year designed to create chatbots that would allow these conversations to be established, based on cContent consisting of images, voice recordings, or social media posts.

After being involved in a controversy and after receiving criticism that this system was “disturbing”, Microsoft confirmed that it had no plans to produce this product.

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