Daily Authority: 🗣️ Alexa does voice mimicry now


Roger Fingas / Android Authority

Morning Good morning! Alright, my second-last day here on the newsletter! No tears!

👉 One new thing I’ll be doing is working with TechAltar on his YouTube tech videos, mostly focused on The Friday Checkout channel. Exciting!

Hearing voices

amazon alexa voice mimicry

Amazon’s re: Mars conference (Mars stands for Machine learning, Automation, Robotics, Space) has been talking about innovation and robots and so on for a few days.

The latest headline came out of Alexa’s senior vice-president Rohit Prasad, who showed off a new voice assistant capability: the ability to mimic voices. Specifically, dead voices.

  • Prasad, presenting at the conference, points out empathy is a big part of Alexa, saying “So many of us have lost someone we love. While AI can’t eliminate that pain of loss, ”he said,” it can definitely make the memories last. “
  • A video then plays showing Alexa reading to a youngster, apparently in the voice of his grandmother, saying “Can Grandma finish reading me The Wizard of Oz?” After she says, “okay,” Alexa goes on to speak in the voice of the child’s grandmother.
  • The sequence unfolds at this point at the conference.

Hmm:

  • So, Amazon might’ve just been showing off an idea, right? There’s no timeline provided.
  • But an Amazon spokesperson told Engadget that the new skill “can create a synthetic voiceprint after being trained on as little as a minute of audio.”
  • Engadget also helpfully points out that deep fake audio tools are problematic for things like… scams!
  • “Voice cloning software has enabled a number of crimes, such as a 2020 incident in the United Arab Emirates where fraudsters fooled a bank manager into transferring $ 35 million after they impersonated a company director. But deep fake audio crimes are still relatively unusual, and the tools available to scammers are, for now, relatively primitive. ”
  • And remember when that documentary about the life of chef Anthony Bourdain used AI to clone his voice, when reading emails he’d sent?
  • Not many people were fans of that.

Maybe?

  • Look, there are humane, interesting, possibly nice ways that this can be done to help people.
  • I don’t think anyone really wants their dead relative telling you what the time is or setting alarms.
  • But maybe for some people looking for comfort in some situations, it might be nice.
  • Of course, there’s the creepy stuff too, and a lot of technology is facing the same problem: interesting ideas that have big potential downsides as well.
  • Another example is Microsoft stopping selling tech that could accurately guess someone’s emotion based on a facial image.
  • There are legitimate interesting use cases that could generally help some people, and a lot of problematic issues bubbling away as well.

Roundup

🔊 Amazon’s new feature makes Alexa mimic the voice of a dead person with just a minute of audio. If you want that – Amazon says it’s to make memories last (Android Authority).

📸 Samsung’s latest 200MP sensor is smaller than the Pixel 6’s 50MP camera: It’ll make camera modules smaller, but likely some sacrifices to performance (Android Authority).

🍎 Apple Macbook Pro 13 (2022) review: Apple has put a 2022 CPU in a 2016 computer, including the tired old webcam. Key point is the review unit sent in by Apple costs $ 1,899, “while a 14-inch M1 MacBook Pro model with those RAM and storage specs would be $ 2,199,” and that 14-inch is the much better MacBook Pro. Plus, the new MacBook Air is coming soon! (The Verge).

craiyon 2022 6 23 13 3 58

Oh hey, I think this might be the last dedicated Throwback Thursday!

  • After about four years of running throwbacks, we’ve reached a little bit of a limit where things from the past, like Tetris, Pac-Man, Gameboys, first iPods, iPhones, Galaxy phones, the first mouse, patents, etc., and various wonderful inventions we now take for granted, have all been revisted.
  • So, new ideas are needed.

With the Daily Authority getting some new hands, Thursday’s special newsletter inclusion might take a new form.

I nominated “Thursday Thing” just to open up some freedom to whatever thing is cool:

Good things!

Cheers, and catch you tomorrow with some final thoughts before I go,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.


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