Amazon Unveils Tech That Allows Alexa to Mimic Any Voice With Just a Minute of Recorded Audio

The new tech has already raised fears about scammers, consent and deep fakes

Close-up of Amazon Echo Dot third generation smart speaker with Alexa on light wooden surface,
Will your Alexa device vocally bring back the dead?
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Google’s text-to-image AI is an impressive technology that seems ripe for abuse.

Amazon’s new tech seems equally problematic. At the company’s Re:Mars conference this week in Las Vegas, showcased new tech that would enable the voice assistant Alexa to mimic any human’s voice using less than a minute of recorded audio, as reported by Fortune.

You can watch a demonstration of this tech below:

The demonstration had the voice of a grandmother read The Wizard of Oz to a child. The company used this example, in part, to suggest this new Alexa feature could be used to memorialize a deceased family member.

That’s a nice thought, and presenter Rohit Prasad, SVP and Head Scientist, Alexa AI, notes that “we’re living in the golden era of AI.” But the technology presents a host of potential issues, particularly with scammers and deep fakes. As well, there doesn’t seem to be any protection against someone using a voice without consent.

As for the use of deceased family members as a voice, Gizmodo asks some fair questions: “What kind of emotions would hearing the voice of a loved one lost to COVID or some other incurable disease evoke in a person? Wouldn’t it just make them angrier their person is gone? And how does this interaction with the deceased work with someone actively working through grief? Does it interrupt the process or help it along? Further, what would the deceased think of it?”

There were no immediate details on when or how the technology will roll out.

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