Amazon’s Alexa might soon replicate the voice of family members – even if they’re dead.
The capability, unveiled at Amazon’s Re:Mars conference in Las Vegas, is in development and would allow the virtual assistant to mimic the voice of a specific person based on a less than a minute of provided recording.
Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and head scientist for Alexa, said at the event Wednesday that the desire behind the feature was to build greater trust in the interactions users have with Alexa by putting more “human attributes of empathy and affect.”
“These attributes have become even more important during the ongoing pandemic when so many of us have lost ones that we love,” Prasad said. “While AI can’t eliminate that pain of loss, it can definitely make their memories last.”
In a video played by Amazon at the event, a young child asks “Alexa, can Grandma finish reading me the Wizard of Oz?” Alexa then acknowledges the request, and switches to another voice mimicking the child’s grandmother. The voice assistant then continues to read the book in that same voice.
To create the feature, Prasad said the company had to learn how to make a “high-quality voice” with a shorter recording, opposed to hours of recording in a studio. Amazon did not provide further details about the feature, which is bound to spark more privacy concerns and ethical questions about consent.
Amazon’s push comes as competitor Microsoft earlier this week said it was scaling back its synthetic voice offerings and setting stricter guidelines to “ensure the active participation of the speaker” whose voice is recreated. Microsoft said Tuesday it is limiting which customers get to use the service — while also continuing to highlight acceptable uses such as an interactive Bugs Bunny character at AT&T stores.
“This technology has exciting potential in education, accessibility, and entertainment, and yet it is also easy to imagine how it could be used to inappropriately impersonate speakers and deceive listeners,” said a blog post from Natasha Crampton, who heads Microsoft’s AI ethics division.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
An exploration of the history of Yorkshire, the Acadians and the Mi’kmaq – Town of Sackville
An exploration of the history of Yorkshire, the Acadians and the Mi’kmaq
An exploration of the history of Yorkshire, the Acadians and the Mi’kmaq
Facilitated by Renée Belliveau, this online presentation will help us understand what impact the arrival of the Yorkshire Settlers had on the Tantramar area, both the good and the bad.
To join the presentation using the Microsoft Teams platform, type shorturl.at/kmP69 in your browser or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the link.
Zoom rolls out fix for Mac app security flaw – MobileSyrup
Zoom has pushed out version 5.11.5 of its Mac app, which includes an important security fix for a relatively recent security flaw.
Security researcher and founder of the non-profit Objective-See Foundation Patrick Wardle uncovered the Zoom security flaw and presented it at last week’s Def Con hacking conference. Per The Verge, the exploit leverages the Zoom installer, which requires special user permissions to run. Wardle discovered that it was possible to ‘trick’ Zoom into installing a malicious program by adding Zoom’s cryptographic signature to the package.
Once installed, attackers can use the malicious program to gain more access to a user’s system, potentially to modify, delete, or even add files to the device.
Reversing the patch, we see the Zoom installer now invokes lchown to update the permissions of the update .pkg, thus preventing malicious subversions 🔐👍🏽 pic.twitter.com/00xjqKQsXs
— patrick wardle (@patrickwardle) August 14, 2022
In a tweet, Wardle congratulated Zoom on the quick fixing, noting that it looks like the installer now “invokes lchown to update the permissions of the update” package to prevent malicious apps from sneaking in.
As such, you’ll likely want to grab the latest Zoom update right away to make sure you are protected against the exploit. You can update Zoom by opening the app and clicking the name in the menu bar, then ‘Check for updates.’ If one’s available, you’ll need to click ‘Update’ to start the process.
Header image credit: Shutterstock
What satellite navigation systems does the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 support? – XDA Developers
After months of heavy leaks, Samsung’s next foldable phone — Galaxy Z Fold 4 — is finally official. While not a massive upgrade over its predecessor Galaxy Z Fold 3, the new model does bring several notable improvements, making the Galaxy Z Fold 4 Samsung’s most refined foldable yet. The hinge is more compact, ergonomics have improved, cameras and chipset have been upgraded, and there are some new software updates to improve the multitasking experience. In addition, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 also boasts support for all global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), enabling precise location tracking no matter where you are.
GPS support on the Galaxy Z Fold 4
In particular, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 supports four navigation systems, namely, GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, and BeiDou. GPS is short for Global Positioning System, and it’s owned by the United States. GLONASS is a Russian navigation system, while Galileo is operated by European Union Agency. Finally, BeiDou is a Chinese satellite navigation system.
Support for multiple navigation systems means the Galaxy Z Fold 4 can access more satellite signals to calculate its positioning. This translates to increased location accuracy and a faster fix. You can use an app like GPSTest to see in real-time which Global Navigation satellite systems are being used by your phone for positioning. As a consumer, you probably don’t need to worry about any of these details. Just know that your Galaxy Z Fold 4 has everything to offer a smooth navigation experience when using Google Maps, booking an Uber, or any app that relies on precise location tracking.
Location services are notorious battery hogs, so be sure to keep tabs on apps with location access. Ideally, you only want to grant full location access to critical apps — Google Maps and ride apps, for example. In other cases, take advantage of Android’s one-time permission to only grant temporary location access to an app.
Check out the best Galaxy Z Fold 4 deals if you’re on the fence about getting one. You can save money and score freebies. And don’t forget to pick up a case and a fast charger for your expensive purchase.
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