Amazon’s Alexa may soon mimic anyone’s voice

Customers will be able to customize Alexa, the company’s voice assistant, to sound exactly like their grandma or anybody else, according to Inc.

According to Rohit Prasad, a senior vice president at Amazon, during a conference the firm conducted in Las Vegas on Wednesday, the online retailer is working on a technology that would enable Alexa to mimic any voice after hearing less than a minute of audio. After “so many of us have lost someone we love” because to the epidemic, the objective is to “make the memories linger,” according to Prasad.

When such a feature would be released, Amazon will not say.

The project explores a technological field that has come under intense examination for both its potential uses and misuse. For instance, Microsoft Corp. recently put restrictions on which companies may use its voice-parroting software. Although others are concerned that it may potentially be used to spread political deepfakes, the intention is to assist those who have speech difficulties or other issues.

Alexa will hopefully become more commonplace in consumers’ lives thanks to Amazon’s effort. But the general public’s focus has already moved on. A highly disputed claim was made by an engineer at Alphabet Inc.’s Google that a business chat bot had developed to sentience. According to numbers the firm has disclosed for device sales since January 2019, another Amazon official claimed on Tuesday that Alexa has 100 million users worldwide.

According to Prasad, Amazon wants Alexa to have “generalizable intelligence,” or the capacity to adjust to user situations and pick up new ideas without much outside assistance. The all-knowing, all-capable, super artificial general intelligence, or AGI, that Alphabet’s DeepMind subsidiary and Elon Musk-cofounded OpenAI are pursuing, he claimed, “is not to be mistaken with” this objective.

At the conference, Amazon presented their plans for companionship with Alexa. The phrase “Alexa, can grandmother finish reading me the Wizard of Oz?” was used by a young child in a video clip.

After a brief pause, Alexa confirmed the order and raised her voice. She appeared to sound like the person’s grandma in real life as she spoke reassuringly and less robotically.

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