Amazon is working on a way to let Alexa mimic anybody’s voice

Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) wants users to be able to customize Alexa, the company’s voice assistant, to sound like their grandmother – or anybody else.

According to Rohit Prasad, an Amazon senior vice president, the online retailer is working on a system that will allow Alexa to mimic any voice after hearing less than a minute of audio. Prasad stated that the purpose is to “make the memories last” after “so many of us have lost someone we love” during the pandemic.

Amazon refuses to say when such a function would be available.
The project delves into a field of technology that has been scrutinized for potential benefits and misuse. Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), for example, recently restricted which businesses could use its software to parrot sounds.

Amazon thinks that the effort would help Alexa become more prevalent in the lives of shoppers. However, the public’s interest has already turned elsewhere. An engineer at Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google claimed that a business chatbot has moved to sentience. Another Amazon executive stated on Tuesday that Alexa had 100 million customers worldwide, which corresponds to numbers published by the company for device sales since January 2019.

Prasad said Amazon’s aim for Alexa is “generalizable intelligence,” or the ability to adapt to user environments and learn new concepts with little external input. He said that goal is “not to be confused with the all-knowing, 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 companionship with Alexa at the conference. In a video segment, it portrayed a child who asked, “Alexa, can grandma finish reading me the Wizard of Oz?”

Alexa confirmed the command and changed her tone of voice a second later. She talked with a more soothing, less robotic tone, ostensibly sounding like the individual’s grandma in real life.