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SpinVox "Recognition" Is Often Expensive Human Transcription 226

An anonymous reader writes "SpinVox offers to convert voice messages to text using a system called D2 or 'the Brain.' According to BBC News, said 'Brain' is often of the old-fashioned kind: SpinVox is sending private voice messages to South Africa, the Philippines, and maybe Egypt to be typed by people in a call centre, despite being registered as keeping all private data inside Europe and claiming that the text is somehow anonymised. Insiders say they transcribed 'love messages, secret messages' and everything else from beginning to end, and the company is being bled dry by the cost: SpinVox has been locked out of one of their data centers over a payment dispute. SpinVox refuses to comment further on details — but according to their web page, they're 'enabling the Speech 3.0, Voice 3.0, and Business 3.0 markets,' whatever that means."
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SpinVox "Recognition" Is Often Expensive Human Transcription

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  • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @07:07PM (#28801579)

    But it also knows what it doesn't know and is able to call on human experts for assistance.

    http://www.spinvox.com/how_it_works.html [spinvox.com]

  • by Kell Bengal ( 711123 ) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @07:08PM (#28801581)
    I think you misunderstood my post. Yes they lied; but I cannot blame them for using human brains as the speech-to-tech method as it's still probably the best way to do it.

    Regardless of their lying about it, the actual 'method' itself is technically sound.

  • by bheer ( 633842 ) <rbheer.gmail@com> on Thursday July 23, 2009 @07:16PM (#28801653)

    Spinvox has a denial here [guardian.co.uk], claiming this is a case of disgruntled employees spreading falsehoods.

    Of course one'd expect them to deny it, but they've just upped the stakes. They would be in violation of UK privacy laws *and* lying through their teeth if this denial is false.

  • Re:Bender vs Apu (Score:4, Informative)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @08:52PM (#28802465)

    I call Raciest on you.

    You must not have worked with Indians before, they are just as good if not better then most American Workers, today.
    Especially if you have a good management team who can talk the language and know the culture. Sure you will come up a couple of bad eggs or some horror stories. But really you can get those same stories from any group of people. However I find them in general to be very motivated workers and rather quite intelligent and willing to learn new things. They became the american ideal while we have gotten fat lazy and feeling entitled.

    The Robot will not do the job perfectly, hence the completive advantage of SpinBox humans can translate human speech better then a computer can. Robots have a lot of hidden costs as well. You change your process you need a full set of new robots and technology. Or you spend a lot of money for more general use robots which preform slower.

    The cost of outsourcing isn't as cheap as saying well and American gets paid $25 an hour while an Indian gets paid $5 so it is 5 times cheaper working with India. There is extra management of working with people in different areas and other costs however this is a management issue which can be optimized to work.

    I am sure if the work was being outsourced to a country were people speak the same language and look and have a similar culture to us and lighter skin, then there would be less of an outrage. You may deny that fact, and you may believe your denial. However I bet if you honestly looked in yourself you will realize most of the outrage with Indian workers is that they are not you race of people.

    Outsourcing to India has many benefits besides cost being halfway around the world allows 24 hour operations. In essence doubling your output. And they are hard workers who do good quality work. Now if your management is stupid then you may get bad results but that is true anywhere.

  • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @09:35PM (#28802731)
    Sadly, it is. Many schools, even in third world and fourth world nations, teach English as their second language for people to participate in business with other groups, even other cultures within their same nations. English _is_ the trade language for this era. And compared to the absolute nonsensical debris most speech algorithms generate in poor acoustic environments, human brains designed by evolution and by education to tease speech out of background environments remain the best speech recognition tool.
  • by Weedhopper ( 168515 ) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @09:50PM (#28802799)

    And now you're saying that people who barely speak or understand English, let alone the subtlties of the language, being paid to transcribe English, is 'technically sound' and 'the best way to do it'? ...

    I think it's more likely that these people speak better, more grammatically correct English than the average Brit or American.

    I find it likely that the majority of these people who worked in these centers are young, recent college/university graduates who are doing this because they couldn't find another well paying job. This isn't a bunch of Angolans or Indonesians. We're talking about South Africans and Filipinos. The well educated South African and Filipino speaks, reads and writes excellent English.

    For that matter, the same is probably true of Egyptians. Though I can't say that with any certainty because I don't know too many Egyptians.

  • by zonky ( 1153039 ) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @10:07PM (#28802887)
    Well, apparently they're disgruntled because allegedly they're getting private medical treatment denied because the premium's are not being paid, and they've been asked to salary for 2 months not as cash, but as share options.
  • Economic Dogmas (Score:4, Informative)

    by copponex ( 13876 ) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @10:15PM (#28802931) Homepage

    The real problem is that people have lost their heads in the United States. The return of evangelicals has led to an atmosphere that is literally opposed to science. So, you get exactly what you expect. Opinions that are based on anecdote and wish thinking instead of data. The reason science works is because you start with the assumption that you don't know something until you can prove that you probably know it, with repeatable, verifiable results. When you start trusting the word of pill junkies [rushlimbaugh.com] and homophobic college dropouts [hannity.com] versus the entire scientific community and their reams of data, get ready for some wide-reaching and catastrophic fuckups.

    Canada kept the rules. The Canadian banking system is still the most sound. Every time we take cops off the financial beat, we end up with a banking crisis. These realities can be arrived at by simply reading about the last 30 years of panics, and the hundred years of bank panics that existed before the FDIC and sensible Great Depression legislation.

    But leave it to the same fuckers from Harvard, who apparently can't even manage a college trust [vanityfair.com] without running it into the ground.

    The pro-market propaganda will continue, and probably destroy our economy beyond repair. And then some wise ass will say that it shows that the market does work, by wiping itself out.

  • by zonky ( 1153039 ) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @10:15PM (#28802935)
    Humans look at every message, not some. The patent explains this quite clearly: http://www.ipexl.com/patents/en/USPTOApps/Spinvox_Limited/Doulton_Daniel_Michael/20090170478.html [ipexl.com]
  • Re:Bender vs Apu (Score:3, Informative)

    by darkmeridian ( 119044 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (gnauhc.mailliw)> on Thursday July 23, 2009 @11:31PM (#28803337) Homepage

    You are missing the point. Bender stays in the EU, so he's bound by the laws of the EU. Moreover, it's not probable for Bender to go off and steal your data. Okay, he might accidentally burp it all up. But he wouldn't go use the information to extort you. (Well, he would. But I mean a computer wouldn't.) Apu might go and Nigerian spam your ass using the information you were lead to believe was kept highly confidential.

    Also, the idea of having a robot transcribe your love messages is far more acceptable to many than having a guy listen to your deepest thoughts and giggling while doing so. Who knows? He might even put a few jokes in there.

  • Official response (Score:3, Informative)

    by quentez ( 1604639 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @02:35AM (#28804139)
    There was an official response to those accusations : http://blog.spinvox.com/ [spinvox.com] It's quite interesting.

If you want to put yourself on the map, publish your own map.