Smarter Than You Think – Computers Learn to Listen, and Some Talk Back – NYTimes.com.
Smarter Than You Think
A series examining the recent advances in artificial intelligence and robotics and their potential impact on society.
For decades, computer scientists have been pursuing artificial intelligence — the use of computers to simulate human thinking. But in recent years, rapid progress has been made in machines that can listen, speak, see, reason and learn, in their way. The prospect, according to scientists and economists, is not only that artificial intelligence will transform the way humans and machines communicate and collaborate, but will also eliminate millions of jobs, create many others and change the nature of work and daily routines.
The artificial intelligence technology that has moved furthest into the mainstream is computer understanding of what humans are saying. People increasingly talk to their cellphones to find things, instead of typing. BothGoogle’s and Microsoft’s search services now respond to voice commands. More drivers are asking their cars to do things like find directions or play music.
The number of American doctors using speech software to record and transcribe accounts of patient visits and treatments has more than tripled in the past three years to 150,000. The progress is striking. A few years ago, supraspinatus (a rotator cuff muscle) got translated as “fish banana.” Today, the software transcribes all kinds of medical terminology letter perfect, doctors say. It has more trouble with other words and grammar, requiring wording changes in about one of every four sentences, doctors say.
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