Google is seeking thick Scottish accents

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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