Amazon developed a feature that will enable Alexa to turn dead loved ones’ voices into digital assistant

People often say once a relative has died that they would love to hear their voice again – and soon they may be able to, thanks to new tech developed by Amazon.

Amazon’s smart speaker Alexa could be programmed to copy the voice of a deceased loved one, the retail giant has announced, which, it says, could help to “make memories last.”

The new technology was unveiled at Amazon’s re:MARS conference in Las Vegas, which is focused on artificial intelligence, automation and robotics.

It is hoped the tech can help people to feel closer to loved ones who have recently died, according to Rohit Prasad, Alexa AI senior vice president and head scientist at Amazon. “While AI can’t eliminate that pain of loss, it can definitely make their memories last,” he said.

Prasad demonstrated the tech by showing a recording of a small child listening to a story, read through Alexa in the voice of a dead grandparent.

Alexa can already speak in the voice of celebrities, but this has needed the celebrity in question to record hours upon hours of audio content to do this effectively. However, Amazon’s new technology needs less than a minute of audio content in order to replicate a voice to a recognisable quality.

Prasad added that we are living in a “golden era of AI” where science fiction is becoming a reality.

No details of when this might be available to the public were given, and whether people will want their dead grandmother’s voice to tell them what the weather is like remains to be seen.