There's some big news coming out of Amazon this week whereby their Alexa devices are set to launch a new feature that would see them mimic the voice of deceased relatives. This would see past and present loved ones become the new voice assistant in an aim to "make the memories last" and was demonstrated at the company's re:Mars conference.
The demonstration showed an Alexa device reanimating the voice of an older woman reading a bed time story to her grandson following the voice comman "can grandma finish reading me the Wizard of Oz?". According to the head scientists, Rohit Prasad, the technology behind it all has existed for several years now and is made possible by "framing the problem as a voice conversion task and not a speech generation path" as the company aims to make their voice assistant devices achieve "generalisable intelligence" in the next progressive step forwards in artificial intelligence.
Clearly, there are some benefits to this feature with the ability to ease the grief experienced with the passing of a loved one, especially for children who may find comfort in the fact that their grandparents seemingly aren't completely gone forever. It could also be used in occassions where a family member is simply away whether that's just for a business trip, holiday or something else.
However, it's not without its controversies. Microsoft have recently published new AI ethics rules which would restrict who could create synthetic voices and how they could be used as according to chief responsible AI officer, Natasha Crampton, "it's easy to imagine how it could be used to inappropriately impresonate speakers and decieve listeners". With this being said, Microsoft are also working on some kind of authorisational process where companies will need to apply for permission to make artificial voices, so this type of technology could certainly be made more of a possibility as time goes on.
What do you think about Alexa's new voice technology? Let us know in the comments! Get in touch with us for help with websites, digital marketing or bespoke CRM systems by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting us on 01924 280876.