Amazon Product Reveal Being Hailed as ‘Monstrosity’ for Its Use of Dead Relatives

Amazon’s Alexa now has the ability to imitate multiple voices, which the company said can be used to have it speak in the voices of dead relatives. The feature was showcased at Amazon’s annual MARS conference last month in Las Vegas, according to The Verge. It’s unclear if the feature will ever be made public. A video at the MARS conference showed a child asking Alexa to read a 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 talked up the concept, saying that giving “human attributes” to AI was 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,” Prasad said. Some on social media were not sold. One user tweeted: “Creepy.” “Morbid.” “Monstrosity.” Amazon Alexa Creeps Out Internet With Voices of the Dead.” Microsoft has set limits on how voices can be created and used, according to NBC. “This technology has exciting potential in education, accessibility, and entertainment, and yet it is also easy to imagine how it could be used to inappropriately impersonate speakers and deceive listeners,” Natasha Crampton, who heads Microsoft’s AI ethics division, wrote in a blog post. Amazon said one minute of recorded audio is enough to do the trick. That’s a massive change from current technology in which Amazon has had celebrities spend hours recording audio, according to Variety. Prasad said engineers were able to cut down the time “by framing the problem as a voice-conversion task, and not a speech-generation task.” This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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