Samuel L. Jackson among stars to provide voice to Amazon Alexa

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Interactions with Amazon’s virtual personal assistant Alexa could soon become considerably more entertaining – and profane – after actor Samuel L Jackson signed up to lend his voice to the device.

The Hollywood star is the first celebrity voice to be rolled out on Alexa, in a feature that will be made available to users later this year for a fee, according an announcement by the tech and retail giant on Wednesday.

The Jackson feature will allow users of Alexa-enabled devices to interact with an AI version of the actor developed using the company’s neural text-to-speech technology. Jackson is not the first celebrity to feature on Alexa, but previous celebrity voice features have relied upon pre-recorded audio.

Jackson’s delivery of expletive-laden one-liners in films such as Pulp Fiction, Shaft, A Time To Kill, Die Hard With A Vengeance, the Star Wars prequels and The Avengers, have entered cultural canon. In some cases – such as his plea to “get these motherfucking snakes off this motherfucking plane” in the 2006 B-grade romp Snakes on a Plane – his lines have become synonymous with the films themselves.

Jackson has said in the past that he is asked by fans weekly to reproduce his famous performance in Pulp Fiction, in which he recites biblical passage Ezekiel 25:17.

The Alexa feature promises to make liberal use of Jackson’s reputation for colourful language, but users will have the capacity to turn swearing on and off.

Amazon suggested on Wednesday that more celebrity voices will be added in 2020.

The feature was one of a number of updates to Alexa announced at Amazon’s annual hardware exhibition in Seattle on Wednesday.

Other updates included new privacy options such as auto-deletion of voice recordings, and new commands that force the program to reveal the data it has collected.

The privacy features come in the wake of concerns about the company’s retention and treatment of users’ data, and the ability of its devices to record conversations.

A suite of new gadgets was also unveiled on Wednesday, extending the company’s reach into its customers’ homes and lifestyles, including earbuds, glasses, a pet tracker and a smart oven.

Source: The Guardian

 

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