Amazon has revealed an experimental Alexa feature that permits the AI assistant to imitate the voices of customers’ dead relatives.
The firm demoed the feature at its annual MARS convention, displaying a video wherein a baby asks Alexa to learn a bedtime 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,” mentioned Rohit Prasad, Amazon’s head scientist for Alexa AI. Prasad launched the clip by saying that including “human attributes” to AI programs was more and more essential “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,” mentioned Prasad. You can watch the demo itself beneath:
Amazon has given no indication whether or not this feature will ever be made public, however says its programs can be taught to mimic somebody’s voice from only a single minute of recorded audio. In an age of plentiful movies and voice notes, this implies it’s properly inside the common client’s attain to clone the voices of family members — or anybody else they like.
Although this particular software is already controversial, with customers on social media calling the feature “creepy” and a “monstrosity,” such AI voice mimicry has become increasingly common lately. These imitations are sometimes often called “audio deepfakes” and are already repeatedly utilized in industries like podcasting, movie and TV, and video video games.
Many audio recording suites, for instance, supply customers the choice to clone particular person voices from their recordings. That approach, if a podcast host flubs her or his line, for instance, a sound engineer can edit what they’ve mentioned just by typing in a brand new script. Replicating strains of seamless speech requires loads of work, however very small edits could be made with a couple of clicks.
The similar expertise has been utilized in movie, too. Last 12 months, it was revealed that a documentary about the life of chef Anthony Bourdain, who died in 2018, used AI to clone his voice in an effort to learn quotes from emails he despatched. Many followers had been disgusted by the software of the expertise, calling it “ghoulish” and “deceptive.” Others defended the use of the expertise as much like different reconstructions utilized in documentaries.
Amazon’s Prasad mentioned the feature might allow clients to have “lasting personal relationships” with the deceased, and it’s definitely true that many individuals round the world are already utilizing AI for this function. People have already created chatbots that imitate dead loved ones, for instance, coaching AI based mostly on saved conversations. Adding correct voices to those programs — and even video avatars — is solely potential utilizing as we speak’s AI expertise, and is more likely to turn into extra widespread.
However, whether or not or not clients will need their dead family members to turn into digital AI puppets is one other matter solely.