Amazon's Alexa may soon be able to mimic your dead relatives' voices

Credit: PA

Amazon's Alexa could soon be able to mimic consumers' dead relatives.

The online retailer is developing a system to let its voice assistant copy any voice after hearing less than a minute of audio, Rohit Prasad, an Amazon senior vice president said at a conference on Wednesday.

The goal is to "make the memories last" after "so many of us have lost someone we love" during the pandemic, Mr Prasad said.

He then played a video segment, in which a child asked: "Alexa, can grandma finish reading me the Wizard of Oz?"

Alexa recognised the command and changed its voice, taking on a less robotic voice and reading the book.

Amazon’s aim for its voice assistant is “generalisable intelligence”, Mr Prasad said. He contrasted it with “all-knowing, all-capable, uber-artificial general intelligence” of science fiction.

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He did not give a timescale for the launch of the feature.

The concept of using AI to mimic the dead is a controversial one. Last year, a documentary filmmaker using software to make the late chef Anthony Bourdain say words he never spoke drew criticism.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain mostly features real footage of the chef before he died in 2018, but its director told The New Yorker that a snippet of dialogue was created using artificial intelligence technology.