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Amazon plans to develop a program that allows imitating the voices of the dead

Amazon plans to develop a program that allows imitating the voices of the dead

Amazon is planning to let people turn the voices of their dead loved ones into virtual assistants, with the company promising the ability to "make memories live".

  • Speaking last Wednesday, Rohit Prasad, Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist, said that the company is developing technology that will allow its Alexa digital assistant to mimic the voice of anyone you hear from less than a minute of the voice presented to it. He added that during the coronavirus pandemic, "many people have lost loved ones and families, and of course he misses them."

  • "The way we've achieved that is by making the problem a voice-transforming task rather than a speech-generation pathway," Prasad added.

  •  The technology was announced at the company's re:Mars conference, with a focus on "ambient computing" achievements in machine learning, automation, robotics, and aerospace.

  • Prasad explained that Amazon's goal of its voice assistant is "generalizable intelligence", comparing it to the "general intelligence, artificial superintelligence" of science fiction.

  • Other tech companies have been wary about making the production of digital audio multiples too easy, so hours before Amazon announced its plans, Microsoft published new artificial intelligence (AI) ethics rules that place strict limits on who and how can create artificial voices.

  • "It's very easy," said Natasha Crampton, Amnesty International's director in charge at the company. "Imagine how it could be used to improperly impersonate speakers and deceive listeners."

  • The concept of using AI to resurrect the dead, or make them look, is not a new concept, even outside of science fiction. In 2020, Joshua Barbeau trained a version of the GPT-3 chatbot on conversation logs with his late fiancĂ©e Jessica, who died eight years ago. And in 2018, Eugenia Koida created a chatbot from the old text messages of her partner Roman Mazurenko.

In the coming days, we will be waiting for a lot of completely new and innovative technologies. 

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