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It’s a disruptive innovation that Rohit Prasad, senior vice president of Amazon and chief science officer of Alexa, highlighted at the “re:Mars 2022” conference. He said the company is working on technology that would recreate the voices of deceased loved ones to “make their memory last”.
As Rohit Prasad pointed out, the use of the virtual assistant Alexa, developed by Amazon, has become widespread in recent years. It thus receives billions of requests per week, in more than 70 countries and in 17 different languages. ” It is available in our homes, in our cars, in our phones, and now it is also going to the moon, with the Artemis project “Recalls the scientific director of the” virtual companion “.
Towards the end of his presentation, Rohit Prasad showed a video that made a lot of people cringe. We see a little boy who asks Alexa if his grandmother can finish reading him a story, the Wizard of Oz. The virtual assistant runs, and it is another voice that continues the interaction with the child, to the joy of this one. The scientific director is delighted with this technological feat, not disturbed for two cents by the idea of making the voices of our dead last among us, and even of having interactions with them.
” One of the things that surprised me the most about Alexa is the camaraderie we have with her. In this role of companion, humans attribute empathy and affection to her, and this is the key to building trust. These attributes have become even more important in these times of pandemic, when so many of us have lost loved ones. AI can’t remove the pain of loss, but it can make their memory last “, he says as well.
“The Golden Age of AI”
Apart from ethical considerations, he explains that this technology represents a technological feat, since it makes it possible to reproduce the desired voice from less than a minute of audio recording. ” We achieved this by defining the problem as a speech conversion task and not as speech generation. “, he clarifies. He has not, for the moment, given more details on the operation of this technology, but was delighted that it could be a form of tribute. There is no doubt that psychologists would undoubtedly have something to expound on the psychological implications of such an innovation.
In any case, this made Internet users who witnessed the presentation video react: “ Dead silence from the audience after this demo at 01:02:56. Do people really want this technology to exist? Just because it could exist doesn’t mean it should “, protests one of them in the comments of the YouTube video. Conversely, Rohit Prasad claims that ” we are undoubtedly living in the golden age of AI, where our dreams and science fiction come true “.
Video of Rohit Prasad’s speech: