Missing your deceased loved ones? Not to fear, because Amazon’s latest innovation through Alexa might soon replicate the voice of family members.
Amazon is making its virtual assistant, Alexa more personal than ever. The company is developing a system through its multifaceted AI assistant Alexa, and may soon be here to help with a cutting-edge new feature that will reportedly allow you to “speak to” the dead.
Amazon shared its vision for companionship with Alexa at Amazon’s MARS conference that the company held in Las Vegas on Wednesday, touting it as a way to make “make memories last.”
Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and head scientist for Alexa, said at the event that the desire behind the feature was to build greater trust in the interactions users have with Alexa by putting more “human attributes of empathy and affect.”
Amazon stressed in the announcement that Alexa’s deceased cosplay won’t “eliminate the pain of loss.” However, the commerce giant insists it will help loved ones live on in our minds, citing the fact that “so many of us have lost someone we love,”, especially during the pandemic.
“These attributes have become even more important during the ongoing pandemic when so many of us have lost ones that we love,” Prasad said. “While AI can’t eliminate that pain of loss, it can definitely make their memories last.”
Prasad tells the audience that through this feature, Alexa will enable “lasting personal relationships.”
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The technology makes those relationships happen by producing a high-quality voice recording in less than a minute versus hours of recording in the studio.
He said the company made it happen by framing the problem as a voice conversion task rather than generating speech.
As the words “Human-like empathy” slowly zoomed in on a giant screen behind Prasad, he said “companionship relationship” surprised him the most about Alexa.
“In this companionship role, human attributes of empathy and affect are key for building trust,” he said. “These attributes have become even more important in these times of the ongoing pandemic when so many of us have lost someone we love.”
Amazon’s annual re:MARS conference, an acronym for “Machine learning, Automation, Robots, and Space,” showcases leaders and technologists who are bringing the future of artificial intelligence to the present day.
“While AI can’t eliminate that pain of loss, it can definitely make their memories last,” Prasad said.
Amazon has yet to announce when it will be debuting the new feature, or if it will be available to the public at all.