Alexa Will Soon Mimic the Voices of Your Dead Relatives
The Verge — Amazon has revealed an experimental Alexa feature that allows the AI assistant to mimic the voices of users’ dead relatives.
The company demoed the feature at its annual MARS conference, showing a video in which a child asks Alexa to read a bedtime story in the voice of his dead grandmother.
“As you saw in this experience, instead of Alexa’s voice reading the book, it’s the kid’s grandma’s voice,” said Rohit Prasad, Amazon’s head scientist for Alexa AI. Prasad introduced the clip by saying that adding “human attributes” to AI systems was increasingly important “in these times of the ongoing pandemic, when so many of us have lost someone we love.”
“While AI can’t eliminate that pain of loss, it can definitely make their memories last,” said Prasad.
I have always said the microphones planted in our homes listening to every word we utter need the capability to replicate the voices of our dead relatives. That is something which will certainly produce exclusively positive reviews and has no horrifying potential consequences.
The stuffed animals that can record and play back a voice message from someone are one thing. Those were actual words spoken by someone you love that were meant for you to hear. Amazon robots artificially re-creating your dead grandma's voice, however, is a completely different thing straight out of the mind of a deranged person.
Honestly, though, I'm sure the people who were willing to plant a microphone made by our tech overlords in their homes in the first place will love this. The more information of theirs you can take and use for something creepy, the better.
There is literally a Black Mirror episode that perfectly illustrates what an atrocious idea this is — and I actually don't know if it's worse for the people at Amazon who came up with this idea to have seen it or not. If they haven't, they're going to watch it now and the AI voice will only last a little while before being turned into an entire person.
If your idea has any even mild connections to something in Black Mirror, it's probably best to scrap it.