In a message that’s sure to raise some eyebrows, Amazon announced an experimental feature for its voice assistant Alexa, allowing it to imitate the voices of dead relatives.
Annually at Amazon MARS conferencethe company showed a demo of Alexa reading a bedtime story to a child using the voice of their dead grandmother.
Amazon’s lead Alexa AI scientist Rohit Prasad said the feature is intended to highlight Alexa’s “human qualities,” which have become more relevant “in these times of the ongoing pandemic when so many of us have lost someone we love.” to have.
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Prasad added that while AI cannot remove “that pain of loss,” it can carry the memories of the deceased.
Amazon claims its AI will be able to imitate a person’s voice after listening to their recorded voice for just a minute.
Aside from details on how this new AI works, the internet is already debating the ethics of such a tool. After all, everything that was the subject of one Episode of Black Mirror can’t possibly be something people clamor for.
It’s worth noting that Amazon isn’t the only company experimenting with using AI to memorialize loved ones who have died. In 2021, Microsoft patented a tool that could potentially rotate deceased relatives in chatbots users could communicate.
And it’s clear that raising the dead through technology is becoming the norm, as exemplified by examples that have used CGI to bring back Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One or Anthony Bourdain’s voice in a recent documentary about the travel writer.
Would you be interested in an AI that imitates deceased relatives? Personally, I’d rather not, although it doesn’t seem to stop tech companies from exploring the field.
Matt TM Kim is the news editor of IGN. you can reach him @lawoftd.