Amazon demonstrates Alexa feature that mimics the voices of your dead relatives

Terrifying or Comforting?

This has to be the tech story of the week and is everywhere but in case you didn’t know. Amazon has an AI feature that can sample a small sample of a relatives voice (unlike reading every word in the dictionary). So could be say from a Skype call or a Zoom session and then they pass away. They take that sample run it through their AI software and can adapt that sample to simulate your relatives voice.

The first reactions of The Verge was WEIRD! The reaction of others inc Twit was creepy. But some have said that it depends on how you approach this.

OK I will give you 2 scenarios both have equal value with the same person and decide for yourself.

  1. A father of a little girl dies on active duty as a soldier. They sample his voice from a recorded conversation maybe even voicemails? And as a result he can still read his little girls a story every night for years to come.
  2. The same soldier has a mother who is devastated and cannot bare to hear his voice as she needs to grieve. When she hears him at this stage (although later maybe able to watch his phone recordings laughing and joking she cannot at the moment) she bursts into tears!

Both equally valid and this is what seems to be the main issue. For some it is spooky and for others comforting.

Whatever the case it is not going away anytime soon.

To quote The Verge

Amazon’s Prasad said the feature could enable customers to have “lasting personal relationships” with the deceased, and it’s certainly true that many people around the world are already using AI for this purpose. People have already created chatbots that imitate dead loved ones, for example, training AI based on stored conversations. Adding accurate voices to these systems — or even video avatars — is entirely possible using today’s AI technology, and is likely to become more widespread.

However, whether or not customers will want their dead loved ones to become digital AI puppets is another matter entirely.

Have fun and spooky days!

Surfwidow