Amazon’s Future Plans For Alexa Might Creep You Out; Find Out Why

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Your next Alexa-powered speaker might just sing a lullaby to your children in their grandmother’s voice. According to Reuters, Amazon is training its artificial intelligence to mimic human voices in order to give its virtual assistant a much-desired human touch. Sounds interesting or creepy? Read on to find out more about Amazon’s plans for its virtual assistant.

Amazon’s Future Plans For Alexa Might Creep You Out; Find Out Why

The information was shared during a conference held in Las Vegas on Wednesday. According to Rohit Prasad, an Amazon senior Vice President, the online retailer is developing a system to let Alexa mimic any voice after hearing less than a minute of audio. The goal is to “make the memories last” after “so many of us have lost someone we love” during the pandemic, Prasad said.

Amazon even gave a demo of the feature in the discussion. In a video segment aired during the conference, it portrayed a child who asked, “Alexa, can grandma finish reading me the Wizard of Oz?” Alexa’s voice changed as she acknowledged the command, speaking more humanly and less robotically.
Now when we are talking about such human-centric AI features, how about a skill that lets you change the calling name of the voice assistant? I guess that would be quite interesting for Alexa users.

Amazon hasn’t shared any timeline for the rollout of the new feature. We are expecting Amazon to roll out the new feature as an Alexa Skill for easy deployment across the product portfolio.

While this feature sounds futuristic and interesting, it also raises concerns about virtual assistants’ ability to advance to uber artificial general intelligence or AGI. Machines with hypothetical advanced intelligence are often misunderstood as threats to society.

What if machines with advanced AGI develop comprehensive knowledge and cognitive computing capabilities and put it to harm humans? That sounds too Matrix, eh? That’s what some of the best minds think artificial intelligence will be like in the near future.

Amazon has an explanation for it. According to Rohit Prasad, Amazon’s aim for Alexa is “generalizable intelligence,” or the ability to adapt to user environments and learn new concepts with little external input. The 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.

Whatever the future holds for humans in AI and machine learning, we are in for it. What are your thoughts on Amazon’s new program for its virtual assistant Alexa? Let us know in the comments.

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Story first published: Friday, June 24, 2022, 10:28 [IST]

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