Amazon has revealed an experimental Alexa feature that allows the AI assistant to mimic the voices of users’ dead relatives.
The company demoed the feature at its annual MARS conference, showing a video in which a child asks Alexa to read a bedtime story in the voice of his dead grandmother.
“As you saw in this experience, instead of Alexa’s voice reading the book, it’s the kid’s grandma’s voice,” said Rohit Prasad, Amazon’s head scientist for Alexa AI. Prasad introduced the clip by saying that adding “human attributes” to AI systems was increasingly important “in these times of the ongoing pandemic, when so many of us have lost someone we love.”
“While AI can’t eliminate that pain of loss, it can definitely make their memories last,” said Prasad. You can watch the demo itself below:
Amazon has given no indication whether this feature will ever be made public, but says its systems can learn to imitate someone’s voice from just a single minute of recorded audio. In an age of abundant videos and voice notes, this means it’s well within the average consumer’s reach to clone the voices of loved ones — or anyone else they like.