Amazon is devising a way for users to speak to their family members through its Alexa voice assistant, even after they've died.
At Amazon's Re:Mars conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and head scientist for the Alexa team, detailed a feature that allows the voice assistant to replicate a specific human voice.
Alexa confirmed the request with the default, robotic voice, then immediately switched to a softer, more humanlike tone, seemingly mimicking the child's family member.
The Alexa team developed a model that allows its voice assistant to produce a high-quality voice with "less than a minute of recorded audio," Prasad said.
While it could ostensibly be used to replicate any voice, Prasad suggested it could be used to help memorialize a deceased family member.
Making artificial intelligence conversational and companion-like has become a key focus, especially given that "so many of us have lost someone we love" during the Covid-19 pandemic, Prasad said.