Samuel L. Jackson's voice coming to Alexa — users can choose to have him curse them out

The new feature uses Amazon's neural text-to-speech technology, which allows it to produce phrases that weren't priorly recorded.

  • Amazon Echo users will be able to replace Alexa's voice for that of actor Samuel L. Jackson.
  • The update will cost 99 cents, but will eventually rise to $4.99.
  • Amazon also recently introduced several new Echo-compatible products, including a smart ring, smart glasses and new earbuds.

Amazon Echo owners will soon get the chance to swap out Alexa's voice for Samuel L. Jackson's, Amazon announced last week. By asking an Echo device to "introduce me to Samuel L Jackson," users will be able to buy the add-on for 99 cents, and eventually $4.99.

"Just ask and Sam will give you the weather, play your favourite music, tell jokes, and more," Amazon wrote on its website. "Samuel L Jackson can help you set a timer, serenade you with a song, tell you a funny joke, and more...Get to know him a little better by asking about his interests and career."

Amazon seemed to realize that its new feature would hardly be authentic if the "Pulp Fiction" star weren't allowed to curse you out, so it plans to offer users the option to enable or disable profanity. The new feature also uses Amazon's neural text-to-speech technology to produce phrases without relying entirely on prior recordings. Amazon said it plans add other celebrity voices to the Echo platform next year.

But Sam will only be able to help Echo users with certains tasks, not including "Shopping, lists, reminders or Skills," Amazon said.

It's worth noting that the idea to use Jackson's voice on the Echo probably didn't come from Amazon executives: A 2014 YouTube video parodied an Amazon Echo commercial by inserting Jackson's voice wherever the original ad played Alexa's.

Amazon announced last week several new Echo-compatible products, including Echo Buds (earbuds), Echo Frames (smart glasses) and the Echo Loop (smart ring). These additions come amid long-standing privacy concerns over the extent to which microphone-equipped devices like Echo and Google Home are listening and perhaps recording what users say. Amazon also said it was rolling out options to let Echo users ask Alexa what she just heard, command Alexa to delete the recording, and other privacy options.

Yug, age 7, and Alia, age 10, both entered Let Grow's "Independence Challenge" essay contest.

Photos: Courtesy of Let Grow
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • The coronavirus pandemic may have a silver lining: It shows how insanely resourceful kids really are.
  • Let Grow, a non-profit promoting independence as a critical part of childhood, ran an "Independence Challenge" essay contest for kids. Here are a few of the amazing essays that came in.
  • Download Let Grow's free Independence Kit with ideas for kids.
Keep reading Show less

Four philosophers who realized they were completely wrong about things

Philosophers like to present their works as if everything before it was wrong. Sometimes, they even say they have ended the need for more philosophy. So, what happens when somebody realizes they were mistaken?

Sartre and Wittgenstein realize they were mistaken. (Getty Images)
Culture & Religion

Sometimes philosophers are wrong and admitting that you could be wrong is a big part of being a real philosopher. While most philosophers make minor adjustments to their arguments to correct for mistakes, others make large shifts in their thinking. Here, we have four philosophers who went back on what they said earlier in often radical ways. 

Keep reading Show less

Withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants can last over a year, new study finds

We must rethink the "chemical imbalance" theory of mental health.

Bottles of antidepressant pills named (L-R) Wellbutrin, Paxil, Fluoxetine and Lexapro are shown March 23, 2004 photographed in Miami, Florida.

Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • A new review found that withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants and antipsychotics can last for over a year.
  • Side effects from SSRIs, SNRIs, and antipsychotics last longer than benzodiazepines like Valium or Prozac.
  • The global antidepressant market is expected to reach $28.6 billion this year.
Keep reading Show less

Is there a limit to optimism when it comes to climate change?

Or is doubt a self-fulfilling prophecy?

David McNew/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs

'We're doomed': a common refrain in casual conversation about climate change.

Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…