Fun_People Archive
16 Jul
Speech Recognition Mishaps

Date: Fri, 16 Jul 93 13:20:03 PDT
To: Fun_People
Subject: Speech Recognition Mishaps

[I'm not sure why this strikes me so funny, but it does...  -psl]

 From: <>
 From: (Eric Iverson)

Al Sicherman
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Sunday, June 13, 1993

I am writing this down for you Gentle Reader, even as I speak

As it tends to do, technology marches on.  And it seems to be marching
over me.  I am dictating today's column into a device that changes my
spoken words into typing on my computer.

Yes, that's right, I am sitting in my chair, with my hands folded in
front of me; I am speaking into a little headset microphone and words
are appearing on a screen.  Ain't science grand?

At this point in today's column, I am correcting the frequent
misunderstandings that arise between me and the machine so that what
you are reading looks just fine.

In fact, however, the rather darling computer program that is
interpreting my deathless words is even now making a zillion incorrect
guesses about what I am saying, most of which aren't even close.  I
should acknowledge that its second guess is quite often correct, but
we aren't playing horseshoes here.

The only reason you can make anything out of this is that I am
correcting the machine as we go.  To be fair, it is still in the
process of learning my voice.  It has only been listening to me for a
solid month.  Presumably after a lengthy exposure to my dulcet tones -
say, 10 or 15 years - it would unerringly transcribe my every
utterance.  In the meantime, it's a little dicey.

I should be gracious enough to say that the reason I am pulling up a
microphone - instead of a keyboard or a typewriter or a linotype - is
that my hands (not unlike my feet, my back, my knees, my esophagus and
my head) are failing to perform up to minimal expectations, and my
doctor has recommended that I wear strange-looking wrist bands and do
what I can to minimize wrist strain from typing.

All right, my choices are: Abandon what I laughingly call my profession
in favor of something that doesn't use the hands, such as
bubble-blowing or grape-stomping; ignore the doctor and go through the
day with my wrists on fire, or spend my time dictating to a computer
that thinks that when I say "require" I mean "retire."

It's an easy decision.  The company has brought in this dictation
computer on a trial basis; five of us are trying it.  (The worst of it
is that chewing sounds confuse it, so I can no longer eat while I

OK, enough Mr. Nice Guy.  Here, unedited, is how this device heard me
recite a few familiar passages.  I will correct the titles, but that's

The Raven
Once upon a midnight jury, well I powder, week and very,
Over many a right and serious volume of forthcoming more -
While I not, clearly next, suddenly their game a having,
As of some one gently wrapping, rapid at my chamber your.
"Kiss some Mr.," I mother, "having at my chamber or:
Only this and nothing more."
Coast the Reagan: "Everywhere."

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
For store and 7 years ago our fathers wrote fourth on this content a
new nation, embassy in liberty and education to the protozoan that all
them are created people.

Annabel Lee
It was many and many the year uncle,
In a keynote by the see,
That a maiden there lived when you may no
By the name of animal Lee.

Preamble to the Constitution
We, the people of the united space, In order to form a more perfect
union, establish justice, injuring most family, provide for the ,
defense, problem the general Walter, and severe the lessons of liberty
to ourselves and or', to morning and establish this consideration for
the united states of America.

Eleanor Rigby
Eleanor really picks up the race in the church
Where a wedding as in
Lives in a tree
With at the window
Wearing the face that she teeth in a jar by the your
Who is it for?
All the only people, where to they all, from?
All a only people, where to they all, from?

The Arrow and the Song
I shot an bureau into the hair,
It tell to earth, I new not where.

Paul Revere's Ride
Listen, by children, and you shall here
Of the midnight by of call radiator.
Want, if by land, and to, if by see;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to wind and sound the along
Through every Nelson says village and from.

The Star Spangled Banner
Old say can you see by the tongs early late,
What so probably we pale at the college last cleaning,
Whose broad strikes and great stores, through the parallels five
Or the reference we watch were so talented string?
And the rockets read letter, the follows bursting in air,
A group through the night that our flight was still their;
Go say does that star scheduled manner yet wave,
Or the land of the free, and the call of the great?

Though there are many more works of Enemy Lobster Although (whom you
many know as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), including The Religious
Watchman (the Village Blacksmith), I think we should stop.

Maybe another time I'll read aloud some complete garbage (passages
from the Congressional Record; the lyrics of "Louie Louie," or the
fine print on my credit-card bill) and see whether the computer turns
it into Shakespeare.

[=] © 1993 Peter Langston []