Microsoft Makes Historic Achievement in Speech Recognition

Microsoft has today released a blog post claiming that they’d made a major breakthrough in speech recognition, creating a technology that recognizes the words in a conversation as well as a person does.

In a paper published Monday, a team of researchers and engineers in Microsoft Artificial Intelligence and Research reported a speech recognition system that makes the same or fewer errors than professional transcriptionists. The researchers reported a word error rate (WER) of 5.9 percent, down from the 6.3 percent WER the team reported just last month.

The 5.9 percent error rate is about equal to that of people who were asked to transcribe the same conversation, and it’s the lowest ever recorded against the industry standard Switchboard speech recognition task.

“We’ve reached human parity,” said Xuedong Huang, the company’s chief speech scientist. “This is an historic achievement.”

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