From Robbie the Robot to Jarvis, science fiction writers have long understood how important it was for an artificial being to sound as lifelike as possible. Speech is central to human interaction, and beyond words, it helps us express feelings and emotions: who can forget HAL 9000’s haunting final scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey?
In the real world, things are more complicated of course. Decades before the term ‘artificial intelligence’ had even been coined, scientists were designing systems that tried to mimic the human voice. In 1937, almost 20 years before the seminal Dartmouth workshop, Homer Dudley invented the Voder, the first attempt to synthesize human speech with electronic components: this video has sound samples and extra information on this incredible device.
We’ve come a long way since then! At AWS re:Invent 2016, we announced Polly, a managed service that turns text into lifelike speech, allowing customers to create
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