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You soon will be able to communicate with the voices of your deceased loved ones thanks to a new feature in Amazon’s Alexa.

Rohit Prasad, the head scientist for Alexa AI, demonstrated the technology at Amazon’s annual MARS conference Wednesday in Las Vegas. 

The demonstration video showed a young boy reading the “Wizard of Oz” before asking Alexa to have his grandmother finish reading the book to him.
“This required an invention where we had to learn to produce a high-quality voice with less than a minute of recording versus hours of recording in a studio,” Mr. Prasad told the crowd.

Mr. Prasad said earlier that he was surprised by the relationships people develop with their Alexas.

“In this companionship role, human attributes of empathy and affect are key for building trust,” he said. “These attributes have become even more important in the ongoing pandemic when so many of us have lost someone we love.”

Mr. Prasad said that while artificial intelligence can’t eliminate the pain of that loss, it can help make the memories of relatives or friends last. 

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Amazon is currently developing the feature, and Mr. Prasad did not say when it would be ready for the public.

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