Grandma, is that you? Amazon previews new Alexa voice capability

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Grandma, is that you? Amazon previews new Alexa voice capability: Describing voice synthesis technology as a way to preserve the memories of loved ones, Amazon demonstrated where its AI assistant may be headed in the future. A short video of a child asking Alexa to have his grandmother read the “Wizard of Oz” was generating buzz at the company’s re:MARS conference in Las Vegas. (Above, Rohit Prasad, Alexa AI senior VP.) Read more.

More re:Mars coverage: More AI for devs: Amazon unveils CodeWhisperer machine-learning ‘coding companion

Internal memo: Amazon CEO Andy Jassy wrote that “it’s not lost on any of us that we’re losing two of our most senior black leaders,” in a message to senior leaders about the departure of Alicia Boler Davis, senior vice president of global customer fulfillment, and Dave Bozeman, vice president of Amazon Transportation Services. Read more

Turning to the cloud to manage satellites: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration teamed with Microsoft and Seattle-area startup Xplore to determine that cloud-based services could provide critical satellite mission operations. Read more.

SAP cuts workers in ‘restructuring’: The tech giant, which acquired Seattle-area travel expensive giant Concur in 2014, is making changes to its product engineering organization, impacting fewer than 30 people based in the PNW.

Gates Foundation backs DNA analysis startup: Seattle’s Phase Genomics is getting $5.5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. National Institutes of Health to catalog the diversity of viruses that infect bacteria. Read more.

‘Big Data’ and the search for alien civilizations: Could far-off aliens be sending out signals telling us they exist? University of Washington researchers focusing on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, are using a strategy that applies simple trigonometry to millions of data points. Read more.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day. — GeekWire Managing Editor Taylor Soper,, and reporter Kurt Schlosser,
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