Microsoft reaches ‘human parity’ with new speech recognition system

Researchers at Microsoft have published details of new speech recognition technology that they say transcribes conversational speech as well as a human does. « We’ve reached human parity, » says Microsoft’s chief speech scientist Xuedong Huang in a statement. « This is an historic achievement. »

The system’s word error rate is reported to be 5.9 percent, which Microsoft says is « about equal » to professional transcriptionists asked to work on speech taken from the same Switchboard corpus of conversations. It uses neural language models that group similar words together, allowing for efficient generalization. Microsoft plans to use the technology in Cortana, its personal voice assistant for Windows and the Xbox One, as well as speech-to-text…

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