Amazon’s Alexa will soon be able to speak to you with your grandmother’s voice

Alexa will soon be able to hit you with a little nostalgia and speak to you in the voice of a loved one. On Wednesday at Amazon’s annual “re:Mars” conference, new upgrades to the AI ​​device, which essentially serves as a virtual assistant, were revealed. The company says the new Alexa capability “will enable lasting personal relationships.”

For example, if someone asks Alexa to read a story with her grandmother’s voice, she can do it. Using a brief recording of someone’s voice, Alexa can learn to mimic it, said Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and chief scientist for Alexa AI at Amazon.

In a video played at the event, a child asks Alexa to have her grandmother finish reading the “Wizard of Oz” to her.

Alexa’s ability to be a companion and have human-like empathy is especially helpful after so many people lost loved ones during the pandemic, Prasad said. “While AI can’t take away the pain of loss, it can make those relationships last.”


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To create this feature, Amazon “had to learn how to produce a high-quality voice with less than a minute of recording versus hours of recording in the studio,” Prasad said. “The way we made it happen was by framing the problem as a speech conversion task and not a speech generation path.”

In 2019, Amazon announced that Alexa had the ability to adopt the voices of public figures, such as Samuel L. Jackson. recognizable voice – with your consent, by using recordings that the stars offer as the basis for additional computer-generated phrases.

Another new update announced at the event is “talk mode,” which means you don’t have to say “Hey Alexa” to keep chatting with the device. You just say it once and you can continue to ask Alexa questions or requests.

Alexa, Prasad said, also has human-like reasoning: the ability to use the short-term context available at the moment and the long-term memory accumulated over years of experience. For example, if you ask it to remind you about the Super Bowl, it will not only look up the date and time, but also make sure it’s in your time zone, then set a reminder for 10 minutes before the game.

Another example: Alexa has hunches about your routine and will pick up on it if you ask her to turn the lights on and off at the same time every day.

She essentially thinks before she speaks. If someone tells Alexa that he doesn’t want to buy flowers for her wife, she will infer a romantic relationship and suggest buying red roses, Prasad said.

“Without a doubt, we are living in the golden age of AI, where our dreams and science fiction are becoming reality,” Prasad said.

In 2019, Amazon announced that Alexa had the ability to adopt the voices of public figures, such as Samuel L. Jackson. recognizable voice – with your consent, by using recordings that the stars offer as the basis for additional computer-generated phrases.

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