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HomeEconomyAmazon plans to make Alexa mimic someone's voice MPNRC
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Amazon plans to make Alexa mimic someone’s voice MPNRC

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LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc wants to give customers the chance to make Alexa, the company’s voice assistant, sound like their grandma or someone else.

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The online retailer is developing a system to have Alexa imitate any voice after hearing less than a minute of audio, Amazon senior vice president Rohit Prasad said at a conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday. The goal is to “make memories last”, as “so many of us have lost someone we love”, Prasad said.

Amazon declined to share when it would roll out such a feature.

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The work enters an area of ​​technology that has been closely scrutinized for potential benefits and abuses. For example, Microsoft Corp recently restricted which businesses can use its software to make parrot sounds. The goal is to help people with speech impairment or other problems, but there is some concern that it may also be used to propagate political deepfakes.

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Amazon hopes this project will help Alexa become ubiquitous in shoppers’ lives. But public attention has already gone elsewhere. At Alphabet Inc.’s Google, an engineer made a highly disputed claim that a company chat bot was advanced for spirit. Another Amazon executive said on Tuesday that Alexa had 100 million customers globally, in line with data provided by the company for sales of the device since January 2019.

Prasad said Amazon’s aim for Alexa is “generalizable intelligence,” or the ability to adapt to a user’s environment and learn new concepts with little external input. He said the goal is not to be confused with “omniscient, all-capable, uber artificial general intelligence,” or AGI, which Alphabet’s DeepMind unit and Elon Musk-co-founded OpenAI are seeking.

Amazon shared its vision for collaboration with Alexa at the conference. In one video segment, it featured a child who asked, “Alexa, can Grandma finish reading The Wizard of Oz to me?”

A moment later, Alexa confirmed the command and changed her voice. She spoke comfortably, less robotically, sounding like the person’s grandmother in real life.

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