Alexa can speak as your lost loved ones

    That’s a little creepy.

    At Amazon’s Re:Mars conference, Rohit Prasad, senior vice president of Alexas, introduced an amazing new voice assistant feature: the ability to mimic voices.

    That’s not so strange. However, Amazon has framed this facial expression skill as a way to commemorate your lost loved ones. It played a demo video of Alexa reading to a child in the voice of their recently deceased grandmother.

    Prasad said the company is looking at ways to make AI as personal as possible. While AI can’t erase that pain of loss, he said, it can definitely make the memories last. An Amazon spokesperson even says this new skill can create a synthetic voiceprint after being trained on just a minute of the person’s audio.

    There is a downside, security experts have long had concerns that deepfake audio tools, which use text-to-speech technology to generate synthetic voices, could launch a wave of new scams. Voice cloning software has led to several crimes.

    For example, in a 2020 incident in the United Arab Emirates, criminals tricked a bank manager into transferring $35 million after posing as a company executive. These crimes are still very rare, but as technology develops, they can become commonplace.

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