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Is Amazon’s Artificial Intelligence Threatening to Make Grandmas Redundant?

'We are unquestionably living in the golden era of AI, where our dreams and science fictions are becoming a reality... '

(Tony Sifert, Headline USA) Amazon’s virtual assistant technology, Alexa, will soon be able to speak to you with the voice of your dead relatives, Sky News reported.

During Amazon‘s re:MARS Conference in Las Vegas, senior vice president and head Alexa scientist Rohit Prasad cited the pandemic as a motivating factor behind the development and said that Amazon’s aim was to “make memories last.”

The technology is apparently able to produce an accurate imitation of a human being’s voice with less than a minute’s worth of audio.

The artificially-resurrected voice could then be selected as Alexa’s own.

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“This required inventions where we had to learn to produce a high-quality voice with less than a minute of recording versus hours of recording in the studio,” Prasad said. “The way we made it happen is by framing the problem as a voice conversion task and not a speech generation path.”

As he called on “Alexa” to change her voice accordingly, Prasad suggested that the development was part of a wider transition to a world in which reality is always-already mediated by artificial intelligence.

“We are unquestionably living in the golden era of AI, where our dreams and science fictions are becoming a reality,” he said.

That is undoubtedly a world that will be governed by what political scientist James Poulos has dubbed “cyborg theocracy.”

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“The ultimate in prestige and power is being an archpriest in the cyborg theocracy,” Poulos wrote in October 2021.

“The only practicable way to achieve this omnipotent control is through a centralized social credit system, a sort of cyborg vivarium in which . . . the virtual world the regime has locked you inside becomes the world that really matters,” he continued.

The news follows closely on reports that Google’s AI sytem — called The Language Model for Dialogue Applications (Lamda) — has become “sentient,” according to the system’s engineer Blake Lemoine.

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