Friday, June 23, 2017

When AI Can Transcribe Everything

We've done a little work with a transcriptionist client. Here is an oddly relevant article in the Atlantic concerning the promise of rapidly improving automated transcription technologies.

Across professional fields, a whole multitude of conversations—meetings, interviews, and conference calls—need to be transcribed and recorded for future reference. This can be a daily, onerous task, but for those willing to pay, the job can be outsourced to a professional transcription service. The service, in turn, will employ staff to transcribe audio files remotely or, as in my own couple of months in the profession, attend meetings to type out what is said in real time.
... the promise of ASR [Automatic speech recognition] programs capable of accurately transcribing interviews or meetings as they happen no longer seems so outlandish. At Microsoft’s Build conference last month, the company’s vice-president, Harry Shum, demonstrated a PowerPoint transcription service that would allow the spoken words of the presentation to be tied to individual slides. 

It’s difficult to predict precisely what this new order could look like, although casualties are expected. The stenographer would likely join the ranks of the costermonger and the iceman in the list of forgotten professions. Journalists could spend more time reporting and writing, aided by a plethora of assistive writing tools, while detectives could analyze the contradictions in suspect testimony earlier. Captioning on YouTube videos could be standard, while radio shows and podcasts could become accessible to the hard of hearing on a mass scale. Calls to acquaintances, friends, and old flames could be archived and searched in the same way that social-media messages and emails are, or intercepted and hoarded by law-enforcement agencies.

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