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Amazon's Alexa Can Now Whisper, Bleep Out Swear Words, and Change Its Pitch (theverge.com) 36

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Amazon is trying to make its Alexa voice assistant sound more humanlike. Up until now, the female-sounding voice maintained an even, monotone cadence whenever speaking, but with Amazon's new Speech Synthesis Markup Language that the company introduced this week, Alexa can whisper, vary its speaking speed, and bleep out words. Developers can also add pauses, change the pronunciation of a word, spell a word out, add audio snippets, and insert special words and phrases into their skill. The Verge notes that "the language markups are [only] available to developers in the U.S., U.K. and Germany." Amazon will also be hosting a webinar on May 18th on the new code.
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Amazon's Alexa Can Now Whisper, Bleep Out Swear Words, and Change Its Pitch

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  • Bleep this (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @05:05PM (#54322309) Journal

    Amazon's Alexa can suck my dick. If I want to buy something, I'll spend 15 seconds to look it up and click a button.

    I don't even like talking to my family all that much. I'm not going to talk to some evil fucking djinn of a multinational corporation.

    • by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @05:26PM (#54322409)
      Would you be interested in our "Tourette syndrome model"?
    • Why is there all this hate against the Echo? I got one about 2 months ago an I quite like it. "Alexa play NPR" "Alexa play rain sounds" "Alexa play empty by metric"

      What I've had a lot of fun with is I got some of those Hue wifi lightbulbs and I tell her to turn them on or off or 60% or whatever. The pull chain for the light in the living room was broken and I like to keep the fan on so I grabbed those and an Echo and it actually is more convenient than a switch. (Wasteful yes, but fun)
      • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @06:19PM (#54322655) Journal

        "Alexa play NPR" "Alexa play rain sounds" "Alexa play empty by metric"

        Look at what Alexa's done to you already. NPR, rain sounds and metric.

        Seek help immediately, or you'll soon be ordering salt lamps and a Juicero.

        • Yeah I was lost already, but come on:

          NPR's better than FOX or CNN,
          Rain sounds are nice when you're napping on the couch,
          And I like Emily Haines, Canadian indie-alt rules
          • Rain sounds are nice when you're napping on the couch,

            How can you sleep in peaceful repose, knowing that Alexa is listening to your every sub-vocal muttering? You might fart and the next thing you know, Amazon has shipped you a case of tube socks.

        • OMG, thank you for letting me know about all the amazing health benefits of salt lamps, I had no idea! Hygroscopy? Reduction of EMR? Reduces coughing and asthma? Awesome!

          And duh, juicing is super beneficial because liquid forms of fruits and vegetables are obviously better than solid, because science.

          (And FYI I also ask Alexa for Dragon Force and They Might Be Giants and Fallout Boy and Explosions in the Sky and Alice in Chains and all kinds of other garbage, so...)

          (Fucking salt lamps, really? I knew peo
          • (Fucking salt lamps, really? I knew people were stupid, but come on)

            One of my neighbors got a salt lamp for Christmas and put it on the curb for garbage pickup by New Year's Eve. I saw it when I was walking the dog and snatched it up. I was hoping to wrap it again and re-gift it to someone as a gag, but my wife saw it and plugged it in. Now it sits as a night light on the counter in the hallway going to the bathroom. True story.

            I don't know about any health benefits, but it is strangely attractive. A l

    • Is someone forcing you to buy one? Blink twice if we should call the cops.

      • Is someone forcing you to buy one? Blink twice if we should call the cops.

        I'm afraid to blink twice, because Alexa might be watching me from the camera on my laptop and she'll interpret my two blinks as a sign that I want to order a gross of USB-C cables and 8 pairs of Dockers.

    • LOL ... well i'd say bleeping out swearwords is most important if you need the illusion of a pseudo A.I. belonging to a conservative subculture, after all whats more important than goodspeak and restricted use of dangerous killer-words gone viral ?
      first thing i hear about this alexa thing ... serves amazon well for not letting me pay with bitcoin or debet ... or okpay .. or about anything i can pay with ... and i'm still living under a rock cos the fallout from the nazi zombies is way too contagious , whi
  • Belgium (Score:2, Funny)

    by OzPeter ( 195038 )

    Will Alexa bleep out "Belgium"??

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Baron_Yam ( 643147 )

      And you wonder why nobody ever visits. It's people like you.

      Holy Zarquon's singing fish, mankind.

  • LOL if they can.. but I still won't have one, regardless.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's well and good, but what I'd really like to see Alexa be able to do is to be removed from the Kindle Fire that I bought two years ago without Alexa and which downloaded itself without my consent. Now that is a feature I'd like to see.

    • Too bad. You paid to lease the Fire. They own it and can put anything on it they want (or take anything off of it). You knew the deal.
  • Only available (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @05:26PM (#54322407) Homepage Journal
    "the language markups are [only] available to developers in the U.S., U.K. and Germany."

    Welcome to the walled garden.
    • Clearly, they should have withheld all markup until they were finished with the translation to Tocharian.

  • just make men feel at home
  • That's when they are the most dangerous.

  • by kriston ( 7886 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @10:36PM (#54323531) Homepage Journal

    That's not what monotone means. Alexa is anything *but* monotone and the author would know this if they ever actually used the service. The voice is moderatly "sing-song" cadence like a radio news reader.

  • by ebcdic ( 39948 )

    It's not "Amazon's new Speech Synthesis Markup Language". SSML is an existing standard; Amazon have added a few proprietary extensions.

You have a tendency to feel you are superior to most computers.

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