One of my favourite marketing fails, which may or may not be true, is the story that Pepsi's slogan "Come Alive With Pepsi" was mistranslated in China as "Pepsi brings your relatives back from the dead."
Pepsi has never challenged the tale, which makes me think there's some truth in it, but of course Pepsi never actually tried to do a Reanimator on anybody's dead relatives. However now it seems that Amazon might enable you to talk to the dead via your Echo Dot.
According to Sky News (opens in new tab), "Soon you could opt to have a deceased loved one tell you stories, play music or simply turn on the lights - all from your Alexa device." This is not a feature I've been hoping to see in the best smart speakers, and quite frankly it gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies.
Alexa, show me a really bad feature idea
According to Amazon senior VP Rohit Prasat, the goal is to "make the memories last" because "so many of us have lost someone we love" during the pandemic. So rather than, say, paying tax to fund future pandemic preparations, vaccine research and other helpful things, Amazon wants you to be able to get your dead nan to tell you the weather forecast.
I know I'm being a Debbie Downer here. But having digital assistants mimicking specific people is a big old box with PANDORA written on it; Microsoft has already put restrictions on the voices its speech tech can use, because the same tech designed to help people with speech issues can also be used to make political deepfakes. And while I understand the desire to hear our lost loved ones' voices as if they were still with us, I can imagine all kinds of dystopian or just creepy applications for this voice mimicking feature.
I recently gave away almost all of my Alexa devices when Alexa decided to start trying to sell me things. It's bad enough when that's happening in Alexa's voice. Imagine how you'd feel if the marketers were able to use the voice of someone you'd loved and lost.