Deep Speech 2: Mandarin and English Recognized

End-to-end deep learning presents the opportunity to improve speech recognition systems continually with increases in data and computation. Indeed, this paper proves that transcription performance can be vastly improved using the same approach for very different languages.

We show that an end-to-end deep learning approach can be used to recognize either English or Mandarin Chinese speech--two vastly different languages. Because it replaces entire pipelines of hand-engineered components with neural networks, end-to-end learning allows us to handle a diverse variety of speech including noisy environments, accents and different languages. Key to our approach is our application of HPC techniques, resulting in a 7x speedup over our previous system. Because of this efficiency, experiments that previously took weeks now run in days. This enables us to iterate more quickly to identify superior architectures and algorithms. As a result, in several cases, our system is competitive with the transcription of human workers when benchmarked on standard datasets. Finally, using a technique called Batch Dispatch with GPUs in the data center, we show that our system can be inexpensively deployed in an online setting, delivering low latency when serving users at scale.

As far as I know, the first sf reference to the idea of real, automated translation of language is the translatophone from a story of the same name by Frank Stockton - in 1901!

One of the most successful of these various contrivances, and the one, indeed, in which I was most deeply interested, was a small machine very much resembling in appearance the tube, with a mouth-piece at one end and an ear-piece at the other, frequently used by deaf persons, but very different in its construction and action. In the ordinary instrument the words spoken into the mouth-piece are carried through the tube to the ear, and are then heard exactly as they are spoken. When I used my instrument the person spoke into the mouth-piece exactly as if it were an ordinary tube, but the result was very different, for the great feature of my invention was that, no matter what language was spoken by the person at the mouth-piece, be it Greek, Choctaw, or Chinese, the words came to the ear in perfect English...

Via Deep Speech 2: End-to-End Speech Recognition in English and Mandarin.

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