Alexa, Sound Like Grandma - DTNS 4302 - Transcripts

June 23, 2022

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Amazon is working on a way for Alexa to mimic the voice of anyone using less than a minute of provided audio for training. Facebook Pay rebranded to Meta Pay and will work to make it an interoperable “wallet for the metaverse” that can manage identities, items, and payment methods across digital worlds.

Starring Sarah Lane, Rich Stroffolino, Justin Robert Young, Roger Chang, Joe.

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Daily tech News show is made possible by its listeners. Thanks to all of you including James, C smith, Miranda, Janelle and Justin Zellers coming up on D T N. S amazon wants to preserve memories of the deceased meta goes all in on digital wallets and wait, what did Michael Jackson do for Sega? Mm mhm This is the Daily Tech News for Thursday, 23, 2022 from Studio Redwood. I'm Sarah Lane

from lovely Cleveland. Ohio I'm rich Rosolino from deep in the heart of texas. I'm Justin robert young sweltering under the southern California sun. I'm the show's producer roger Cheng.

Well hopefully everybody stays cool. I don't know get those popsicles out. But first let's start with a few tech things you should know netflix. Co. Ceo ted Sarandos confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that the company is speaking with potential ad partners saying it will likely start an advertising business in partnership with an established player. The Wall Street Journal sources say that nbcuniversal and google are the top contenders to work with netflix.

General Motors said that all of its current and upcoming E V s built on its multi um platform as well as most chevy bolt models will support plug and charge capability on the go network, plug in charge stations recognized the vehicle as it parks and doesn't require pre registrations per each station and payments are handled and authenticated on smartphones basically register once you can pull up and it just smooths out the whole process. GM also partnered with google to add more than 3250 fast charges in the US by 2025 of course GM is not alone with supporting plug and charge, we have Volkswagen ford Mercedes, Benz Porsche, Audi hunde lucid and Poll Star also supporting IT.

Meta began testing an age verification update to instagram in the US, which will require additional verification for users if they edit a date of birth to be over 18 years old instagram will test three verification options uploading I. D. S asking adult instagram friends to verify that person's age or submitting videos for facial analysis Instagram partnered with bot on the facial analysis. That's the same company that provides age verification to the U boat social app. We talked about that back on May 25. If you recall the Instagram system, doesn't verify age when creating an account. However,

the D. N. A data storage alliance, one of my top 10 alliance is made up of Microsoft western digital Illumina and twist bioscience. Joined the storage networking industry association or Sneha as a technological affiliate. The group will work on standards to speed development of an interoperable DNA storage ecosystem. D. N. A offers a lot of potential as an archival storage system offering density up to 100,000 times greater than magnetic tape for example is able to store up to a zero byte per gram of D N A and it can last for thousands of years right now. Most work and it is theoretical it has in practically slow read and write speeds. But joining Cynthia is a major step into developing it as a product

at its re mars conference, amazon launched a new preview of code whisper an ai programming tool that can auto complete functions based either on command commands from the programmer or the first few inputs of its name. Amazon claims this can even take into account your own coding style and variable names when auto completing that sounds familiar at all. Git hub just released its similar co pilot service to all users this week. Code whisperer supports java, javascript and python at launch and was trained on billions of lines of open source code documentation and code on public forums. The code whisperer preview is available as part of the Aws i. D tool. All right, y'all. Let's talk a little bit about amazon being creepy or I don't know, you might think you might not. Let's let's let's let's let's unpack this. If there's one thing that tech companies not just amazon think that people want, it's having their loved ones brought back digitally, you might have, you know, a deceased parent or grandparent or family member or friend and that would be in this in this queue in the latest of these efforts. Amazon senior Vice President Rohit Prasad said that the company is working on letting uh, amazon's assistant, you know, her name mimic the voice of anyone. After training on less than a minute of audio of that person's voice positioning it as a way to make the memories last using the voices of deceased loved ones.

Amazon demoed the feature at its annual re mars conference in it, amazon showed a child asking an echo device to have his grandma finish reading the wizard of Oz. This is part of an overall effort to add quote unquote human attributes to Ai Systems. Amazon says that they that the key to advancing this was a approaching the issue as a voice conversation task rather than speech generation.

Yeah. And if you're saying, well, this kind of speech replication isn't new. You're, you're correct. It started to become generally available on the consumer level, but amazon is not the first company to try to tackle this, but generally it needs a large sample of audio to work Well otherwise not gonna sound like your grandma even then it's best used for quick edits, not necessarily reading an entire book type of thing. Movie studios have used it for people that have either passed away or whose voices have changed over time, such as creating an Ai double of Anthony Bourdain in a recent documentary or semantic, creating an Ai voice clone of Val Kemmler in the latest top gun movie

amazon gave no indication when this feature will ever be made public but framed. It is saying that advances like this are proof that we

live in the quote unquote

golden age of a I the only whether or not it is more of a golden time with your friends and family or pet cemetery.


So Sarah, I mean you, we opened this is kind of joking. It's like, hey, this potentially could be super creepy. I feel like amazon set themselves up for this because if they have it as hey, uh, you know, dad's out of town or oh, I lost my voice. I got, I got laryngitis, I can't talk, but I've I can do like you like make it so that it's like okay this helps separate a gap or something like that. I feel like when you when you make it so saccharine and also bring in hey it's old deceased grandma over there. That to me is like is like turning on all the bells and whistles for people to be like oh this is this doesn't feel right, it's not saccharine, it's weird forever. Apple has kind of understood this in terms of their pr there's a reason why they make commercials like they do where they put realistic situations that either tug at the heartstrings or demonstrate how technology will better your life with your family. But it is very very very few and far between outside of that company in terms of trying to leverage its pr I think we might all remember the Samsung ad where a wife a digitally tap transferred what she was insinuating to be may or may not be a sex tape to her husband. I

don't remember that commercial

show. You could tap and and transfer stuff using the N. F. T. Technology that was, that was new at the time. Anyway. Uh there is a

million ways that you

can do this, you can do the the uh teenager who gets mad at their parents but secretly as using amazon to replicate their parents voice to read them a story or something like that. You don't have to go all the way to dead grandma and tie it to the pandemic, which he did during this uh tone deafness,

you know, listen, I I I do not have Children of my own, but I I know a lot of people on this panel are our parents. I have, I have a parent friends who talk regularly about how, you know, the kid might go a little off the rails, these are younger kids, but a little, you know, like they want the parents voice their maybe, you know, mom or dad has to travel out of town. Maybe both of them do type of thing. I can see where this actually would come in handy and be just, you know, like a kind of a security blanket type thing. It's it's when you go into the the deceased, that's when everyone goes, well, hold on a second and I was like, what the heck are you doing? I didn't even know grandma

was alive until you introduced the

grandma and didn't grandma die. How is this happening?

I think a lot of the problems that people are having with this is amazon basically just threw this out here and we don't have a lot of the details about how this will be implemented, because I can definitely see, like if they throw this out and it's like, here's an A p I you can plug it in, it's free, you can use it with any single app ever. Yeah, there's all sorts of problematic use cases that that could get into trouble with. However they're like if we're gonna include this in like here, the set five categories of apps that we're gonna do and we're gonna human review all of these and you can report like if you put up enough guardrails on this specific implementation, I'm not talking about the potential for like Deepfake Audio in general. I mean obviously those solutions are out there across a wide spectrum of product, but just for this amazon integration, I do think there is a way to set it up in a way that could be done responsibly and with minimum, like, like I guess you would have to be like I consent to this weird creepy recreation of a dead person's voice. But amazon didn't do that. They just said, here's this uh is this creepy use case enjoy have had an internet. I think we're going off a little bit of the rails. This is not the end of days here for him and it was a sloppy and ugly pr uh slip up during a largely developers conference. The fact that we have a bright spotlight here is, is what it is. But this technology is out there. Descript is a that's available right now and you can do the exact same thing. In fact our friend Andrew Heaton uh did a exactly that trained his voice and then called his father with the ai generated voice and his dad was none the wiser, so this is, this is

oh that's like a cool like trick to play on parents, I'm gonna do that with my mom. Uh sorry mom spoiler next time I call, you might not be me. Alright moving on to the metaverse because we all love talking about the metaverse. Meta ceo Mark Zuckerberg, perhaps you've heard of him announced on Wednesday that facebook pay is now called meta pay. Not a huge surprise, the company announced its intentions to rebrand last month.

Yeah what's making more waves? That Zuckerberg also said the company wants me to pay to become the wallet for the metaverse that can manage identities, items and payment methods across digital worlds. Zuckerberg's post focuses mostly on how the company's metaverse wallet will enable proof of digital ownership. He mentions how it could be used to create and buy digital clothing, art, videos, music experiences, virtual events and more.

Now if you're thinking to yourself, okay sounds good, isn't this just an N. F. T. Wallet that does all the things Zuckerberg doesn't say that specifically, but the company has recently been working on integrating LFTs into instagram and facebook together. He also says might as well it will be interoperable so you can use your goods in any metaverse experience. That part is unclear to me how many metaverse is are we gonna have but okay there's some questions about how that's gonna work obviously, but meta did join a standards group with the goal of getting everybody on the same page when it comes to language and tech related to this metaverse.

Yeah and and that's the key part right at the end because if they if a couple of days ago they had announced this meta pay initiative I would have been very skeptical of being like okay this is just a rebrand. Yes they have visions of it but like how applicable is this? They are like the idea that there are numerous big companies that aren't named Apple and google that are all working together on metaverse standards makes me kind of reconsider this a little bit other than it just being oh okay they're doing N. F. T. Wallets because yeah that is what it sounds like one I do think this is something of of meta just kind of realizing hey N. F. T. Is is like a loaded word for a lot of people. It sounds like there's a lot of hype around it. Maybe let's just back off on that until we can actually deliver something that people want. But also I I do think that there are meaningfully grander ambitions to this obviously facebook thinks the metaphors is gonna eat everything but I I do think the standard having a standards committee like that or standards alliance or whatever you wanna call it uh makes this a lot more meaningful than at first blush.

I do think it's also utilitarian uh being in virtual reality, which is going to be the pathway for the metaverse experience is something for which getting out your wallet effectively breaks immersion and the idea of having something that is built from the ground up to be integrated within a virtual world is good. Yeah, I think that I would probably buy more stuff if it were easier to pay for things while I was in virtual reality and if you, if you kind of close your eyes and squint really hard. I do also see a little bit of a similar idea to what interrupt is doing tim Berners lee company with their pods kind of system. It's, it's not nearly as ambitious at least by the way, Zuckerberg is making it sound like that's more about like, hey I own all of my personal data, I can take it kind of wherever I want and I own it and I have stewardship of it right? But I do feel like it in its intention. I I feel like when you're talking about bundling it again, not just not just being a way to transact commerce, which is important again to having that seamless experience but kind of having ownership of like digital assets within that, I'm not saying they're 1 to 1, I'm not saying they're even they're even related, but I feel like there is some purchase to this idea of kind of of of having this pod that moves across ecosystems and it's kind of surprising to see, to see metal, you know, going forward and saying this will be interoperable, I feel like that we're we're kind of entering into a new era though, where where the idea of interoperability is going to be more of a thing. We've heard the super app label thrown around a few times recently,


somewhere between antitrust and the fact that all these companies have kind of reached maturity. Uh we are, we are now at least for the the the the top players there,

like maybe we

can a Newall our gardens. Just a touch.

Yeah, I don't know. I mean so much of this is like I'm like as a enthusiastic VR user and I use a quest. So it's a meta company. I'm like okay, this is awesome. You know, if there's, if there's more life to be had, you know, while I'm in that world, great love the metaverse. None of that is like real though right now. We're talking about it a lot. We're talking about what the future is going to be like this metaverse that no one really knows how they even get their type thing. I it'll it'll it'll be fascinating to see how this shakes out.

I wonder how many evers real estate prices are holding up. Is that is that is that a leading or lagging indicator for the economic stability of the country.

Yes, we're in a metaverse bear market, it's really bad. Well if you want to hear us talk about metaverse things or non metaverse things one way to let us know what you care about is in our subreddit we look at it every day and you help us choose a lot of stories. So thank you in advance submit stories and vote on them at daily tech news show dot reddit dot com. Alright, so on D. T. N. S. We cover our share of E. V related news. We try to focus on everything, you know, because stuff is happening all across the world, but there's a whole booming tech industry around other mobility services. A lot of the time when we hear about those, we think of electric scooter companies like lime or birds, but there's also a booming industry with e bikes, according to NPD Group. E bike sales grew uh 47% on the year in 2021 after seeing 145% growth in a pandemic fueled 2020.

A lot of people getting on those bikes now with people looking to potentially avoid rising fuel costs. They're proving to be a popular option. You can save some money by doing it and you know, maybe get a little healthier rich. I know you've been looking at this market recently, right?

Yeah, I've, I've been looking at me and my wife, Jackie recently decided to downsize to a one car household, we just ended up having a car in the garage 99% of the time. And you know, for the first couple of months, I would say there's been a handful of times where I was like, oh darn, it would be nice to go to the store. We live out in the burbs. So like the groceries, like the nearest park. If I want to take the kids to the park about a mile away, it's not undoable to walk with that four and a five year old. The walk back is kind of, you know, kind of a pain to be quite honest. The nearest grocery store is like two miles away. Again, if there was an emergency, I need, you know, I really need that E V 00. I could just, you know, run up to the Giant Eagle be back probably, you know, take a little bit of time, but I could do it not the most friendly thing to do. But I was looking, I was like, okay, don't want to buy another used car because I'm already spending money but not a great market for it. E bike kind of sprung to mind as like, hey, this is something that I can, I can transport fairly quickly. It's not like gonna absolutely destroy my completely ripped an awesome physique and you know, it's something I can also, you know, kind of kind of carry cargo on at the same time.

It really seemed to fill a niche. And I was fascinated to discover like this rising market, uh, you know, as, as I started to research the options that are out there. Uh, Yeah, I mean, I think that, that you are a fairly ideal person for whom to do that. And, and looking at like what, like, because like I've had mentioned this to friends and I said, well why don't you just get like a moped or scooter? I know in the state of Ohio, a lot of other US states, this requires uh, motorcycle license and I'm not 100% certain of my capability to get that. And it's, you know, it's a, it's a hassle to go there. There's fees involved and stuff like that. You know, it's, it's more like, I don't want to go through with that. E bikes don't really have that restrictions. Uh, and uh, they're much more friendly for transporting kids. You can get like cargo E bikes, you put two seats on those, uh, or like a kind of a kid carrying rack and fit to, to small humans on there. So there is, there is a lot of versatility out there that that kind of made it stand out from a lot of the other, you know, kind of motorized two wheel options.

Like a scooter doesn't really have a cargo capacity also would like murder my Children. I'm not a fan of that.

Well, that's, that's, that's good, good for you rich. But you know, I know that the e bike thing has at least in California because California notoriously full of hills. So you know, if you live in san Francisco, it's like, I mean even if you're like really into fitness and you know, you feel you feel great about it, it's like there are just certain hills, you're not gonna be able to get up. Some people can, I can't so the e bike thing has been really attractive to me just in terms of like, okay, where I'd like to get around and I'd like to exercise and I, you know, it's gonna be a lot faster than even jogging, but I get a little help, you know, on the other side. And I think that that for for a lot of people who go I can't live with a bicycle, like that's insane. Well, maybe the e bike thing, you know, is something to look into.

Yeah, and it's it's an interesting accessory because, you know, to your point, all of the at least in the US there are three classes of e bikes, all of them offer some form of pedal assistance is what they call basically. I've I've heard it described as it feels like there's two or three of me doing the pedals. Um so a class one is purely pedal assisted e back then go up to 20 MPH, but the engine, the engine cuts off as soon as you stop pedaling and it won't let you accelerate basically past 20 miles an hour. That's a hard stop on that. Then there are class two e bikes that can also go up to 20 MPH, but they can include an optional throttle basically like a motorcycle. You just twist the throttle and it'll do the acceleration on itself. It takes more wear out of the battery so you don't get quite as good of range on those if you're leaning into that all that much. But you know, if you're coming home from a long trip can be useful and then there are class three which are just more powerful pedal assisted, no, throttle, but you can go up to 28 MPH, which, you know, is at or above the speed limit, depending on what city streets you are. So you're really at that point not sacrificing necessarily any speed on your journey. And at that point and those are all uh, you know, permissible across the US. Do we, do we get a sense that that might change any, because that's pretty fast. Yeah, that, that is, and especially in Europe, they capped that much lower.

I think 15 is the limit on those and we're actually one of the reasons uh, that there aren't uh, like depending on the type of engine that you have and if it's a European motor, like a center, like a mid a mid bike motor that sits on where the pedals are, Most of those are made in europe. And so they actually like, uh, a lot of those don't have a lot of the higher end speeds even though they're extremely well regarded motors because they're catering to that european market. We are seeing some particularly like, um, like parks and trails and stuff like that. Some states making some laws forbidding e bikes, especially with throttles on there because they do tear up trails. But right now, I don't hear any particular headwinds in terms of like, overall uh, street usage, although something moving 28 MPH on a sidewalk. Probably not ideal. Yeah, that, that's an etiquette thing people need to understand, especially on the scooters too. It's like, uh, you don't need to be tearing down the sidewalk. Yeah. And, and just real quick in terms of cost. Um these have, it's interesting because up until about 2020 we were seeing the cost of these going down hitting right just above the 1000 mark for kind of the budget from uh, budget offerings from well known brands that would offer like customer service, something like rad power bikes and stuff like that right now, we're seeing prices more for like the, but for like the, the budget entry level models, around 1500 to $1800. And a lot of that is because of supply chain issues, batteries are just harder to source.

These are huge. These are pretty big batteries. We're talking about like anywhere from 3 to 700 watt hours on these, you know the way about anywhere from 5 to £7. So we're seeing the cost on even the entry level models going up appreciably. Uh, and some places are having a hard time keeping them in stock, especially because we are starting to see some states Offer some subsidies and especially locally we're doing some subsidies in Colorado is doing a $12 million states and they've actually had to coordinate with local stores to make sure that they like before they fully roll this out to make sure the stores are stocked up enough to meet the demand that this would generate run real quick thing before we get out on this, we're also seeing other like kind of mobility companies getting into e bikes Earlier this month, Porsche announced it was going to acquire the e bike drive train maker maker. Uh, this is Porsche's second major investment in e bikes. They also acquired the company grape last year spelled word, but it's pronounced grape. What's interesting about is its system combines the drive train, the battery into a single unit. Usually those are separate, the battery will sit along uh, kind of where your seat post is, it's looking to use these acquisitions to form joint ventures, not just for Porsche branded e bikes, which I guess would be cool and presumably unaffordable, but for further micro mobility platforms for fleet uses and that kind of stuff.

I love it, I love it, you know, e bike, tech, good stuff, rich, but also also good stuff. If you happen to be a sonic, the hedgehog fan with the release of sonic Origins, creator New Gene aka has confirmed a bit of an urban legend that's been going on for quite some time in sonic, the hedgehog history that Michael Jackson, Yes, that Michael Jackson wrote the music for Sonic three and knuckles knuckle tweeted on thursday asking if the music for Sonic three and knuckles had changed in sonic origins at all, since he produced the original game in 1993 through 94 he quickly followed up with another tweet saying, oh my God, the music for Sonic three has changed, even though Sega official uses Michael Jackson's music

and to say

that, I think, I think, I think, I think we're pretty clear on what happened

and this has kind of been going around since, like, I think there was like a 2006 youtube videos where this like theory first popped off, where people were doing comparisons with Michael Jackson songs and stuff like that. So there there's been a lot of speculation about this, but we have it from the creator's mouth, I guess kind of offhandedly confirming it, which I don't think that he did all of the music, this wasn't like a passion project where he was working on, on, on every note here. But yeah, it was music that he apparently had input on and, and that was where the urban legend came from because it bore a melodic similarity to another Michael Jackson song And we've seen sonic three and sonic and knuckles and not be in certain sonic compilation. So they're always always some speculation. Oh, that's because it's tied up with rights to the music and that's why we haven't been able to do it. And it seems like maybe that's the case also here because they did change the music.

Indeed, over in the mail bag, we got a real good one from Daniel in Cincinnati. Hi Daniel, Daniel. Uh, this is in response to a conversation we had yesterday about the amazon Proteus bought in amazon warehouses, Daniel says, you mentioned, it's designed to move large carts and warehouses. I work in one of the places that they were deploying them while this robot does replace people from moving full carts of packages from one place to another. It's not taking someone's job right now, heavy or extra large packages are too big for the conveyor belt, they enter the building, they're brought to one location for sorting workers, scan those packages, then they put them into cards. Then those same people have to move the heavy carts, long paths to many other locations in the building, for example, location One through six every day, each location receives different quantities of these large packages. The same workers that fill the cards, then move the cards when they're full. No one's hired to just move cards. So proteus is like a more flexible conveyor belt. No company hires 2000 employees just to move every product or box one at a time through an assembly line or warehouse. Proteus is a cart mover to move heavy carts through the large buildings but it uses the flat floor to transport as opposed to a fixed conveyor belt. Daniel closest by saying, yeah, Proteus is like an industrial starship technologies, robots.

Good, good context from on the ground, super appreciate that.

Yeah, no kidding. I mean it's like short of you know employees all on e bikes. I feel like a better idea, you know, you gotta, you gotta, you gotta big warehouse, you got a lot of big old heavy boxes, you know, let's help the employees help themselves. Uh so thanks to you Daniel and thanks to everybody who writes in every day, keep those emails coming. We'd love to hear your feedback feedback at daily tech news show dot com is where to send that email. Also thanks to you Justin robert young for being with Rich and I today, what's been going on since we saw you last?

Well friends, you know, I am just a one man podcasting machine so I am continuing to let you know that we're not wrong is the panel show, discussing politics with me and two other independent political podcast creators gen briny of the congressional dish and Andrew Beaton. So we already mentioned this episode from the political orphanage. We have a brand new episode out including January six whether or not it's dirty pool to have campaigns run ads for other parties, candidates that you would like to beat other people. And of course the, the, the, the, the great question of whether or not a uh an elephant in the zoo gets sentience mm


Whether or not it should be mandated by law to be let out of the zoo, although that was last week. But I only said that because I forgot the third topic of what we talked

about. This is the life of a podcaster. I'm like, what did I talk about yesterday? I don't know. Daniel, Daniel reminded me with his email special thanks to Liz Cohee, one of our top lifetime supporters for D T N. S. We'd like to thank you whenever we can. So Liz, today is your day. Thank you for all the years of support

Ben Stiller visiting Ukraine. I just remembered it anyway, go ahead.

Oh, there it is. There it is. Just a reminder which we can talk about in the after show. There is a longer version of the show called Good Day Internet available at patreon dot com slash D T N S. Do check it out If you if you think he should. We're live monday through friday at four p.m. Eastern 20 100 UTC on this here show. Find out more at daily techniques show dot com slash live, and we'll be back doing it all again tomorrow with Lemar Wilson joining us to talk to you. Then this show is part of the

frog pants network. Get more at frog pants dot com Diamond Club hopes you have enjoyed this broker.