E-commerce giant Amazon has just announced that a new feature is in development on their voice assistant Alexa. The latter could be able to reproduce the voice of a deceased person. We explain to you.
This is not the scenario of a science fiction film but rather the new functionality that could be added to Amazon’s voice assistant: “Alexa”. It would be enough for the device to have less than a minute of audio recording to successfully imitate the voice it records. As you have understood, it also works if this recording comes from a deceased person.
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A demonstration was performed at a conference in Las Vegas last Wednesday. “Alexa, can grandma finish reading the Wizard of Oz to me?” asked a child at the machine. The latter accepted the request in a robotic voice, then immediately transitioned to what sounded like the voice of the child’s grandmother, reports a CNBC article.
Contact with the afterlife
The feature hasn’t made it into the voice assistant yet, it’s still in development, and Amazon hasn’t announced a release date either. Still, the concept fascinates as much as it divides, some consider it unhealthy or frightening, while others are simply amazed. Rohit Prasad, Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist of the Alexa Team, said the goal is to keep the memory alive: “So many of us have lost someone we love. ‘AI can’t take away that pain of loss, it can definitely make the memories last,’ he said, CNBC explained in his article.
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The idea with this technology is above all to improve and make the assistant’s voice more realistic. Amazon is thinking big and “has rolled out a series of features that allow its voice assistant to reproduce more human-like dialogue, even going so far as to ask a user questions,” the article reads.
Black Mirror 2.0
The reason a lot of internet users are worried about this technological advancement is because it comes so close to an episode of the dystopian series “Black Mirror”. This series depicts the excesses and damage of new technologies – in particular artificial intelligence – in the very near future. In episode 1 of season 2, the scenario approaches the service offered by Alexa. A young man dies prematurely, his companion learns of the existence of a service allowing him to speak virtually, beginning of a spiral of psychological torture.
In the majority of episodes of Black Mirror, the moral as well as the conclusion of each episode suggest that new technologies represent an extreme danger for our society. Something to worry a little more the most anxious on the subject.