August 15, 2022


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Amazon Voice Assistant: Alexa must speak in her grandmother’s voice

Status: 06/24/2022 2:30 PM

A voice sample of less than a minute should be enough for a new Amazon language assistant program to mimic the human voice. But experts warn: the potential for abuse is high.

US technology group Amazon has developed software that can imitate the human voice with less than a minute of speech as a template. This was announced by Amazon Director Rohit Prasad yesterday at a company conference. Thus Alexa can imitate any voice.

The goal is to create lasting memories after so many people lost loved ones during the pandemic, Prasad said. Artificial intelligence can help. The company demonstrated online how a networked speaker with language assistant Alexa reads to a boy “The Wizard of Oz” in his grandmother’s voice.

In an interview with tech blog Techcrunch, Prasad stressed that the grandmother of the demonstration was alive. He stressed that it was not about a “dead grandmother”.

Selling to consumers is still unclear

Technically, the new software is a leap, since until now it has been necessary to speak several hours of text to get usable results from the electronic voice simulation. However, it remains uncertain whether the technology will actually reach consumers. Amazon has not provided any information on this.

Experts noted the potential risks. Siwei Lyu, a professor of computer science at the University of Buffalo, has expressed concern about the potential for misuse of the program. For example, criminals could pretend to be family members or try to influence stock markets with fake statements from top managers, he told the financial news agency. Bloomberg.

The program will also make it possible to imitate the voices of politicians or public figures. This can facilitate the spread of false information and manipulation of messages.

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Microsoft only wants to offer software to specific customers

The US group Microsoft is working on a similar program. Natasha Crampton, the company’s head of AI ethics, recently commented on this in a blog post. The manager announced that Microsoft wants to set strict guidelines for using the software. Customers who are permitted to use the Service must be restricted.

According to Crampton, the technology has great potential. But it is also easy to imagine how it could be used to deceive listeners.