In an attempt to further enhance the functionalities and the user experience of its AI virtual assistant, Amazon is planning to bring your exact vocal mimicry to Alexa. So if you want Alexa to sound like any member of your family, you just have to wait for the update to arrive soon even though the company is yet to give any hint about how soon.
According to Rohit Prasa, an Amazon senior vice president, the eCommerce giant is working to develop a system that let Alexa mimic anybody’s voice after hearing less than a minute of audio of that individual.
The announcement was made at a conference held by Amazon in Las Vegas on Wednesday. According to him, the goal is to “make the memories last” after “so many of us have lost someone we love” during the horrifying pandemic, Prasad said.
Even though this is innovative, there are still some grey areas as far as security and privacy are concerned because some critics have said the system is a great innovation and could potentially lead to usage abuse on the other hand.
A good example of this is Microsoft which recently restricted which businesses could make use of its software to parrot voices. The initial development was to help those with speech impairments or related problems but there is also worry that this technology could be used to propagate political deepfakes.
On Amazon’s end, the American tech giant hopes the project will Alexa become ubiquitous in shoppers’ lives – a service that an Amazon executive claims has about 100 million customers globally.
Prasad also added that the aim is to make Alexa a “generalizable intelligence”, or at least, give it the ability to adapt to user environments and learn new concepts with littler external input on the user’s end.
He said that the goal is “not to be confused with the all-knowing, all-capable, uber artificial general intelligence,” or AGI which is what companies such as Alphabet’s DeepMind and OpenAI are all working to achieve.
Amazon shared its vision for companionship with Alexa at the conference. In a video segment, it portrayed a child who asked, “Alexa, can grandma finish reading me the Wizard of Oz?”
Just a few moments later, Alexa switched from its default voice to an elderly individual’s voice. The device spoke well and was less robotic to everyone’s surprise.
Though still in development, this shows the level at which tech companies are trying to make life easy and better for all their customers across the globe.