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Amazon announced a new feature last Wednesday that will allow Alexa to speak with the voices of deceased family, friends and other loved ones.
Speaking in the keynote on day two during the company’s annual MARS conference in Las Vegas, Alexa chief scientist Rohit Prasad showed a video of Alexa apparently sounding like a child’s deceased grandmother and reading a book to him.
“Alexa, can Grandma finish reading ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to me?” the boy asks before Alexa starts reading the book.
Prasad said that something that surprises him about Alexa is “the relationship of partnership that we have with her.”
“In this companionship rule, human attributes like empathy and affection are key to building trust,” Prasad said.
“These attributes have become even more important in these times of the ongoing pandemic, when so many of us have lost someone we love. While Alexa can’t take away the pain of loss, she can definitely make those memories last,” she added.
Prasad said the voice will enable “long-lasting personal relationships.”
Prasad also mentioned that his team “had to learn how to produce a high-quality voice with less than a minute of recording versus an hour of recording in the studio.”
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