Skynet Now Generating Paralinguistic Phenomena Via Markup In Text-to-Speech Syntheses

The voice of computers on the phone is about to get better, if the boffins at IBM's Thomas J. Watson lab have anything to do with it.

The intent of the new system is to generate even the little peculiarities of speech that characterize the human speaker; the "ums", "ahhs" and "ers."Andy Aaron of IBM's speech team has this to say:

"These sounds can be incredibly subtle, even unnoticeable, but have a profound psychological effect. It can be extremely reassuring to have a more attentive-sounding voice.

"When you are on the telephone on an automated service helping you fix your computer or buy insurance, this could make the difference between being a happy customer or hanging up and cancelling a service."

This technology, called "generating paralinguistic phenomena via markup in text-to-speech syntheses", has only recently been patented.

Soon, we will enter into a golden era of telephony, one in which the vast and cool and unsympathetic intellects of corporate computer systems will speak to us just like we speak with each other. What could go wrong?

(The Terminator Voice Transformation)

In the scene shown above, from Terminator 2, the bad-guy shape-shifting T1000 takes over the person of John Connor's foster mother (and speaks in perfect, idiomatic Californian). When John becomes suspicious during a phone conversation with her (it), the good-guy Terminator (Arnold, of course) takes over the conversation, imitating John's spoiled west coast brat voice perfectly.

So, I guess this technology could be a two-edged sword. Science fictionally-speaking.

From IBM developing 'most realistic' computerised voice via our friends at frolix_8.

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