Amazon Alexa’s voice could sound like that of a deceased relative: how it works

At the Amazon Tech Summit, the tech giant poked fun at technology that could be cool or creepy, or even controversial. An Echo Dot was asked to do a task with the voice of a dead relative of the user and the thing responded with that voice. Now, while Amazon touts compelling use cases like how you might get the feeling of talking to a deceased loved one, the question is whether the bad actors would also share the right intentions. Also, could we make Alexa speak in the voice of our favorite celebrities?

Amazon Alexa Voice: how this technology could work

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Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and chief artificial intelligence scientist at Alexa, said the technology uses AI to synthesize voices based on data from short audio clips that are fed into the machine learning system. The result claims to have “human attributes of empathy and affection.”

The biggest value proposition is that Alexa’s new voice can “do [loved ones’] the memories last.”

But not everyone buys this Amazon claim.

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Rachel Tobac, CEO of San Francisco-based SocialProof Security, doesn’t think “easy-to-use voice cloning technology” is ready. Speaking to the Washington Post, she adds: “If a cybercriminal can easily and credibly replicate another person’s voice with a small voice sample, she can use that voice sample to impersonate other people. That bad actor can trick others into believing they are the person they are impersonating, which can lead to fraud, data loss, account takeover and more.”

Not forgetting the ethical concerns of whether the deceased person’s approval is required to use the technology in this way. So there are many things to consider before the technology becomes a reality one day.

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