Tags: microsoft | speech | recognition | better | than | human

Better Than Human? Microsoft Speech Recognition Software Nearly There

Microsoft is working on speech recognition software that could surpass humans' ability, which may mean that people will need to yell "Operator!" into the phone fewer times in the future. (Kiosea39/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Tuesday, 18 Oct 2016 05:08 PM

Microsoft's speech recognition system may not be better than humans yet, but it has matched human speech recognition in a recent test that compared the software to humans in understanding a neutral example.

Advances in artificial intelligence and acoustic technology are credited with helping Microsoft achieve a 5.9 percent error rate in their speech recognition system, the same rate professional human transcribers have in understanding speech, according to Business Insider.

The test used a set of recorded phone conversations in different languages called “Switchboard,” which has been a standardized sample that all speech recognition researchers and developers can use to compare products and results.

In September, Microsoft achieved an error rate of 6.3 percent. It has since made adjustments to its system that have brought it level with human efforts.

Digital Trends reported that Microsoft’s milestone will help many different computer systems improve their voice interactivity and that digital assistants will be able to interact more naturally with people.

“This will make Cortana more powerful, making a truly intelligent assistant possible,” Harry Shum, executive vice president in charge of Microsoft’s Intelligence and Research Group, said, according to Digital Trends. “Even five years ago, I wouldn’t have thought we could have achieved this. I just wouldn’t have thought it would be possible.”

Even so, there is more work to be done in the field of speech recognition. The current test results were achieved in a quiet environment, but Microsoft plans to continue improving the system to achieve a higher level of accuracy in settings where background noise will be a factor, including on a city street, using a drive-thru, or in an empty room where sound often echoes even when it is otherwise quiet.

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Microsoft's speech recognition system may not be better than humans yet, but it has matched human speech recognition in a recent test that compared the software to humans in understanding a neutral example.
microsoft, speech, recognition, better, than, human
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2016-08-18
Tuesday, 18 Oct 2016 05:08 PM
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