Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Aug 2016 21:24 UTC
Google

In light of our discussion a week ago about how computers have trouble with non-standard dialects and accents, it's interesting to note that according to Quartz, Google is recruiting Scottish people - through a third party company called Appen - to record their own voice.

The tech giant is on the hunt for people with a Scottish accent to record a set of phrases to help improve its speech recognition software. An employee from speech technology company Appen - which has been contracted by Google - started the search by posting on Reddit, in hopes of finding Scots who will record their voices in return for £27 ($36). The task, which takes up to three hours, involves participants recording phrases such as "Indy now" or "Google, what’s the time?"

That's one way of doing it, I guess - but I just don't see how this will make any meaningful dent in broader terms. Getting relatively standard Google Now commands to better recognise people with Scottish accents is very welcome for our friends in the beautiful country of Scotland, but I don't think this will scale very well beyond a limited set of standard Google Now commands (I didn't call Siri and Google Now "slow and cumbersome command line interfaces" for nothing), let alone other English accents and dialects or those of other languages.

Unless, perhaps, Google is planning on doing this for numerous dialects and languages, at which point I wish them good luck - they might be done with English by the time the sun explodes.

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Interesting
by pmac on Wed 17th Aug 2016 21:44 UTC
pmac
Member since:
2009-07-08

I suppose it depends on how the data is processed. Perhaps what they're gathering is the accent equivalent of "the quick brown fox...", and they can just feed it all into some system that makes sense of it all without much manual work. In which case gathering the same data for all those dialects wouldn't be that big of a task. They hire people in each country to drive around mapping the place. This would just be the same, except with accents.

I doubt they'd have to actually write code for each dialect, which means it's a data processing and management problem, and Google is brilliant at that.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Kroc
by Kroc on Wed 17th Aug 2016 22:16 UTC
Kroc
Member since:
2005-11-10

Everytime I see some half-arsed journalist bash out a piece about 'robots in the home' or 'hotels run only by robots' I think, oh sweet naivete Americans, all of your dreams would be destroyed and shat upon the instant you tried any of this stuff in England or Scotland'.

It should be law that all self-driving vehicles, AI helpers and McDonalds-employee-replacing robots should be trialled in Glasgow for a week. Oh, how soon the engineers would come to a painful realisation about what the real world is actually like.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by Kroc
by WorknMan on Thu 18th Aug 2016 01:46 UTC in reply to "Comment by Kroc"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

It should be law that all self-driving vehicles, AI helpers and McDonalds-employee-replacing robots should be trialled in Glasgow for a week.


Also in Georgia (US). These voice assistants can never understand my parents' southern drawl ;)

Edited 2016-08-18 01:46 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Obligatory
by panzi on Wed 17th Aug 2016 22:36 UTC
panzi
Member since:
2006-01-22
Command Phrase Interface
by FuriousGeorge on Wed 17th Aug 2016 23:35 UTC
FuriousGeorge
Member since:
2010-08-26

Thom,

Wouldn't you say Siri and Cortana are more like "Command Phrase Interfaces"?

Reply Score: 2

I wish I had a recording of
by bannor99 on Thu 18th Aug 2016 00:23 UTC
bannor99
Member since:
2005-09-15

a tech support call I got from a Scottish guy with the thickest brogue I've ever heard.....and he was near an open door, calling me on a satellite phone from a oil platform in the North Sea.

I deserve a medal & year's pay for solving all his tech issues on a single call because all these years later and after many attempts replaying that call in my head, I still don't know half of what-the-fsck he was saying

Reply Score: 7

RE: I wish I had a recording of
by rleigh on Sat 20th Aug 2016 15:27 UTC in reply to "I wish I had a recording of "
rleigh Member since:
2014-11-15

In a previous job in a company in NW England I had to do phone tech support as well as programming (small company). Strong accents of any kind can be difficult. It also doesn't help when they call you in a rage and you have to deal with strong and angry accent as well!

The worst I think was a very strong Glaswegian accent from a customer in the Fylde. But got some fairly challenging calls from Geordie and Welsh customers as well. I don't think it helps being on the phone either. I've been living and working in Dundee for years now, and I don't have much of a problem with Dundonian other than the occasional bit of obscure (to me) slang!

Definitely not an easy problem for dumb software to solve though if it's already a challenge for a human!

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Radio
by Radio on Thu 18th Aug 2016 06:40 UTC
Radio
Member since:
2009-06-20

You may snark all day, but Google translate has support for a ton of languages, even very uncommon ones. Google has often made the extra effort when it comes to internationalisation.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by Radio
by RobG on Fri 19th Aug 2016 10:03 UTC in reply to "Comment by Radio"
RobG Member since:
2012-10-17

It may do a ton of languages, but we're talking about regional accents here, so that's about as relevant to the discussion as the price of cheese.

Reply Score: 2

"by the time the sun explodes"
by l3v1 on Thu 18th Aug 2016 07:34 UTC
l3v1
Member since:
2005-07-06

This is probably just a quickfix that they need really soon - probably that's why they contracted an outsider to do it - until they can come up with a better solution.

Reply Score: 2

Appen ?
by MarkHughes on Thu 18th Aug 2016 07:59 UTC
MarkHughes
Member since:
2013-11-14

Where I live this is a common slang word "appen", I wonder if the company was names as such on purpose ?

Reply Score: 1

Comment by spudley99
by spudley99 on Thu 18th Aug 2016 08:28 UTC
spudley99
Member since:
2009-03-25

...record their voices in return for £27 ($36). The task, which takes up to three hours...


So that works out at £9 / hour.

I don't know about anyone else, but that seems like a pretty low-paid job to me.

Edited 2016-08-18 08:29 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by spudley99
by jbauer on Thu 18th Aug 2016 11:33 UTC in reply to "Comment by spudley99"
jbauer Member since:
2005-07-06

"...record their voices in return for £27 ($36). The task, which takes up to three hours...


So that works out at £9 / hour.

I don't know about anyone else, but that seems like a pretty low-paid job to me.
"

Time to get used to the new post-Brexit pay rates I guess...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by spudley99
by Alfman on Thu 18th Aug 2016 14:42 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by spudley99"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

jbauer,

Time to get used to the new post-Brexit pay rates I guess...


I am not familiar with what brexit has done to wages, but contracting for these big companies doing auxiliary services doesn't necessarily equal high pay. Living in a high cost area with low pay is the worst of both worlds.

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2013/12/17/251992536/...
Cardenas earns $16 an hour, has no benefits and never gets more than 30 hours a week. In a good month, he brings home about $1,400. If Cardenas didn't live with his mother, he says, he probably wouldn't have a roof over his head.



An issue I encounter a lot personally is not being paid for overtime and even fulltime work. I my full time jobs, working an extra 10-15hours/week without compensation wasn't uncommon. Corporations have a long history of not paying for that, at least in the US and large corporations don't appear to be immune...

http://www.informationweek.com/team-building-and-staffing/google-su...

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-google-overtime-lawsuit-idUSKCN0I...

https://redmondmag.com/articles/2006/11/26/ibm-pays-tech-workers-65-...

http://www.cnet.com/news/electronic-arts-faces-overtime-lawsuit/

http://www.itworld.com/article/2800694/careers/microsoft-workers-se...

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/jobcenter/workplace/story/2012...

http://www.channelpartnersonline.com/news/2013/10/verizon-settles-o...

http://www.injurylawyerblog.center/2013/01/disney-employees-class-a...

Edited 2016-08-18 14:46 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by spudley99
by avgalen on Thu 18th Aug 2016 13:26 UTC in reply to "Comment by spudley99"
avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

It is not a job, it is just an incentive

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by spudley99
by M.Onty on Thu 18th Aug 2016 13:38 UTC in reply to "Comment by spudley99"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

Reading three word phrases into a mic whilst continuing to be Scottish is a job with a pretty low barrier to entry. 25% over minimum wage sounds fair.

Reply Score: 3

Right location, right interviewer ...
by ameasures on Thu 18th Aug 2016 09:23 UTC
ameasures
Member since:
2006-01-09

Craig Joubert in the Gorbals?

Reply Score: 2

They should hire me!
by theosib on Thu 18th Aug 2016 16:30 UTC
theosib
Member since:
2006-03-02

I can do a pretty decent Scottish accent, especially when I’m quoting something. One of my favorites:

You will explain your presence and the nakedness of this girl.
Are we in Scottland?
How can you be ignorant of that?
Um, I'm dazed and confused. I’ve been chasing this wee naked child over hill and over dale. Idn’t that right ya timorous beasty.
Och, aye, I’ve been oot and aboot.
No, don’t do that.
Hoots mon!
No, really don’t.

Reply Score: 2

Scottish Klingon
by zlynx on Thu 18th Aug 2016 19:46 UTC
zlynx
Member since:
2005-07-20

I really want to know if Klingon as spoken in Scotland sounds different to Klingon spoken in Georgia, US.

This is important information for Google to have.

Reply Score: 2