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'Black Mirror' come to life: Alexa may soon have the voice of deceased persons

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
'Black Mirror' come to life: Alexa may soon have the voice of deceased persons
Amazon's Echo Spot device powered by Alexa at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last January 11, 2019
AFP / Robert Lever

MANILA, Philippines — The Season 2 opener of Netflix's dystopian anthology series "Black Mirror" entitled "Be Right Back" sees a woman who discovers technology that allows her to communicate with her deceased boyfriend by imitating online interactions and voice patterns.

The episode starring Hayley Atwell and Domnhall Gleeson is considered to be one of "Black Mirror's" best episodes as it explores grief through technology, and modernized adaptation of "Frankenstein."

Amazon seems to be inspired by the concept as it has developed a way for its popular voice assistant Alexa to replicate the speech of a dead individual based on less than a minute of recorded audio from the person.

At the company's re:MARS conference, Alexa AI  (artificial intelligence) senior vice president and head scientist Rohit Prasad presented a demo video of a young boy asking Alexa if his grandmother can finish reading him a story.

“As you saw in this experience, instead of Alexa’s voice reading the book, it’s the kid’s grandma’s voice,” Rohit said. “We are unquestionably living in the golden era of AI, where our dreams and science fiction are becoming a reality.”

Rohit also shared his optimism that using AI through such means can enrich people's lives, ""While AI can't eliminate that pain of loss, it can definitely make their memories last."

Amazon has tried making Alexa imitate celebrity voices in the past like actor Samuel L. Jackson, NBA star Shaquille O'Neal, and comedian Melissa McCarthy. There is no news yet if this new feature will be available for public use.

Speaking of "Black Mirror," the much-awaited sixth season is currently in production at Netflix where its episodes will be more cinematic as if they're their own feature-length movies.

RELATED: 'Black Mirror' confirmed to return on Netflix with sixth season

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