Alexa may soon imitate late relatives if Amazon’s dark new idea goes ahead
At this year’s annual Re:Mars conference, Amazon revealed perhaps the weirdest technology I’ve ever heard: an Alexa skill that can mimic other people’s voices.
On the surface, it doesn’t sound that bad, does it? The nerd in me is already thinking of ways I can feel like Tony Stark or Luke Skywalker with my own personal Paul Bettany or Anthony Daniels-voiced Alexa speaker (the MCU’s Jarvis and Star Wars C3-, respectively). P’s voice).
But instead of going down this celebrity route, Rohit Prasad, Amazon’s senior vice president of Alexa, pitched the idea with a clip of a child being read by Alexa using the voices of their recently deceased grandparents. Engadget. According to (opens in new tab)An Amazon spokesperson explained that the clip could be recreated using “as little as a minute of audio” of a person imitating Alexa.
The scene was probably meant to inspire heartwarming emotions as you see how Amazon’s technology helps a child process their grief, but it could easily have been a scene from Black Mirror. . In fact, Episode B Right Back has a very similar premise to it.
Be Right Back follows Domhnall Gleeson’s Ash, who is killed in a car accident, and, after discovering that she is pregnant, Hayley Atwell’s Martha needs to try new technology that will help her to kill Ash. Allows imitators to communicate with artificial intelligence. It’s terrible and definitely not meant to serve as a preview of any good.
In his explanation about the Alexa tool, Rohit Prasad said that although it won’t eliminate the pain of loss “it can certainly make memories last” and can help ease any heartache.
It’s a feeling I can certainly understand; Grief is a difficult emotion to process, especially at a young age like the kid in the clip shared by Amazon. But blurring the lines between life and death doesn’t seem like the healthiest way to deal with loss.
Based on Prasad’s comment, it is clear that Amazon sees this as an evolution of reminiscing about loved ones using old photos and videos recorded before their demise, but this is not the same. a photograph or a video was taken with their consent and is something that the person actually did before he died; The AI-led feature isn’t playing a recording of someone reading a book, it’s using their voice to create a concocted memory.
If anyone wants their voice to live on after they die, power them through Alexa, I’m sure they’ll love this feature. Personally, I wish I could be left to rest in peace.
more than just digital death
In addition to the above nightmare-inducing uses, this copycat feature can also pave the way for new scams. While many of us know to ignore the robot voices and hang on to the other end of the line, we may be more inclined to listen to money pleas from our grandmother or son.
With sophisticated video deepfaking tools, we may finally find it impossible to believe watching any video – anything could have been created from real fake audio and visuals.
Amazon won’t be the only company developing AI voice tools like this brainchild. We suspect that Apple, Google, and every other voice assistant maker wants to make them more realistic and personal. But these sophisticated imitation features are the very Pandora’s box, which must be opened with care.
To that end, it seems Amazon is aware of the need to be vigilant. It hasn’t outlined a timeline for when the feature will be rolling out to existing Alexa devices, and it also hasn’t confirmed whether it will be publicly available.
But now that its audio immortality has been revealed to the world, it’s likely to take a while for Alexa to regain the ability to speak as dead.