"Alexa, how many mf-ing snakes are on this mf-ing plane?" Pretty soon, if you ask that question, it will be Samuel L. Jackson that can answer. I know! At Amazon's annual hardware event, the company detailed a bunch of updates to Alexa, that virtual assistant we've all come to love and fear.
One of the updates is that soon, Alexa will be able to mimic celebrity voices, so it will be just like that celebrity is in your house, telling you the weather or your agenda for the day. And the first voice they're releasing? Why, the iconic voice of Samuel L. Jackson, of course.
But don't worry; Amazon isn't trapping Sam Jackson in a booth and making him record every single word in the English language. Instead, according to Mashable, they will be using a "neural text-to-speech technology to replicate the iconic actor's voice."
It's kind of bizarre that this technology exists and is supposedly as convincing as it is. It feels like this ability to mimic voices could be used for evil to release fake recordings of famous people saying stuff they didn't actually say (like deepfake...but for voices). But for now, it seems it's only being used for plain ol' fun.
Mashable writes that "the Samuel L. Jackson Alexa personality is launching later this year." There are only a few months left in this year, too, so you won't have to wait long for it. If you buy it in 2019, it will cost $0.99. If you wait 'til 2020, you'll have to pay $4.99.
There will also be explicit and non-explicit versions of his voice available to use. So if you have young kids, don't worry. That doesn't mean Samuel L. Jackson will berate them with curses when they ask for their schedule for the day...unless that's what you want, of course.
If the idea of Samuel L. Jackson's voice doesn't get you excited, never fear. There are more celebrities on the way. We might just have to wait for 2020 for those. No word on what other celebrity voices will be available, but personally, I'm imagining the sultry sounds of Gillian Anderson's voice telling me the news and I've honestly lost all track of everything. So that would be nice.
In addition to Samuel L. Jackson's voice and those of other celebrities, the updates to Alexa will also include a "deep learning model," which means Alexa will be able to understand vocal inflections. For example if you are frustrated, she'll be able to recognize it. Seems like we're edging toward that robot takeover we've been fantasizing about for decades now, doesn't it?
Other new features include multilingual mode for bilingual households, new privacy option, including the ability to auto-delete the recordings Alexa stores, and an "Alexa, why did you do that?" command, which will make Alexa explain her most recent response. This is great for people who treat Alexa like the unruly child she is.
Alexa is definitely getting an upgrade, but my one big question is this: If you change her voice to that of Samuel L. Jackson, do you still have to call her Alexa? Because I just think it would be really fun to wake up in the morning and be like, "Hey! Samuel L. Jackson! What's the weather like today?"
Samuel L. Jackson is probably the perfect choice of celebrity voice to kick of this new Alexa trend, but there are other celebrities out there with iconic voices that would also give Alexa a major upgrade. I'm thinking Patrick Warburton, James Earl Jones, Kristen Schaal, Viola Davis... The possibilities are endless!