Coming Soon on Amazon Alexa: Dead People's Voices


Coming Soon on Amazon Alexa: Dead People's Voices

In a future upgrade, Amazon Alexa might speak in the voice of departed relatives and friends. At its re:MARS conference on Wednesday, Amazon described the features as a method to "make memories last."

Alexa would be able to mimic a person's voice when speaking after less than a minute of listening to that person's speech. According to Sky News, a child in a video of the feature asked Alexa to read them a story, and she agreed before changing her voice Sky News .

It's unclear how far along the feature is in development or when Alexa voice assistants might start receiving it. We might not see this functionality any time soon because the re:MARS (for machine learning, automation, robots, and space) event highlights what Amazon is doing in ambient computing, including developments in Alexa.

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The capacity to replicate a voice pattern precisely raises security concerns as well, but we'll reserve judgement until we know how well Alexa can imitate a voice after only hearing it briefly. We'll also watch how the function is received. Although it appears to require user consent, there is a moral quandary around the rights of the deceased's voice and how long it may be stored on personal devices or business servers.

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An Amazon spokeswoman told CNET that the voice-imitating tool isn't specifically designed for family members who have passed away. It is based on recent developments in text-to-speech technology, which are detailed in an Amazon white paper from this year. The team applied a voice filter to produce high-quality voice with much less data than was required when hours-long voice recordings in a professional studio were used to create the voice files.