You’ve invested years learning your profession with hopes of helping others while building a successful career. Did you anticipate spending so much time and money transcribing your audio and video records? Of course not.
Transcription services make life simpler and more efficient for many industries, such as health care, legal, law enforcement, and government. With artificial intelligence (AI) speeding up many tasks, you might think using AI to transcribe audio records saves time and money. There’s no question that AI offers some advantages. It also has its drawbacks too.
AI versus Human Transcription
For those just learning about transcription services, the debate between human and AI methods remain at the forefront of the industry. Human transcription is when a person listens to audio or video and manually converts the conversation into text. AI transcription enables speech recognition technology to convert audio into text. The software is written and algorithms programmed to allow this conversion.
With AI’s introduction to the transcription world, the new technology promised faster turnaround times, lower costs, and the same or better accuracy rates. Many industries, especially health care, transitioned from human to AI transcription. And there’s no question that AI platforms continue to improve. However, some industry professionals argue the cost-savings touted by AI isn’t reliable if double-digit accuracy rates are maintained.
The Difference Between Good and Great
Many of us use devices such as Google’s Alexa and or Apple’s Siri. They help turn our lights on, find our favorite song, and even advise us not to leave home without an umbrella on rainy days. Yet, they can also misunderstand even the most basic human commands.
When it comes to transcribing legal and law enforcement audio or video, there is no room for error. Although human transcriptionists can’t match the speed of AI technology, when accuracy is paramount, the more traditional human touch could be a better option.
Below are a few areas where AI and human transcription can differ:
Different Industries Use Different Jargon
One could argue if everyone’s speech was absent from any accent or dialect, neither the human ear nor AI programs would miss a single word. And we quickly learn that humans rarely ever write like they speak or speak as they write.
Many occupations rely on a unique internal language or “jargon.” A friend or family member with no experience in your profession may find it difficult to understand a conversation between colleagues. A good example is someone with a military background. They routinely use acronyms and phrases that people without similar training won’t understand. The same holds for AI programs.
The English language is full of words with two, sometimes multiple meanings. When a suspect or client’s future is on the line, accuracy counts.
For example, the word “bust” has several meanings. Used as a verb in law enforcement, it can refer to an arrest. As a noun, it could indicate a type of failure or someone’s chest size. Only human transcription can differentiate the word’s proper use.
We Are a Nation of Accents
English is the dominant language in the U.S. Nonetheless, some regions within our country may pronounce some words differently than others. That can create problems when using AI technology.
For example, a southerner may use the phrase, “y’all,” which is slang for “you all.” Natives of another region may say “you guys” in a similar manner. AI technology struggles to differentiate between these regional preferences.
Here’s another scenario that law enforcement officials might encounter. What if a bilingual suspect in a criminal investigation gives a statement to the officers in both Spanish and English? Maybe they don’t know a word or phrase in their second language and revert to their native tongue. AI platforms often struggle in these situations.
If you thought your high school English teacher was mean (another example of a word with multiple meanings) for routinely highlighting your punctuation mistakes, then rest easy. That same teacher would probably give AI technology and “F” for incorrect punctuation.
Automated transcription services have difficulty inserting punctuation in the proper places. As we learned from that same language teacher, how a sentence is punctuated can determine its meaning. AI transcription almost always struggles with inserting correct punctuation.
If studio-quality equipment and acoustically perfect environments occurred with all audio transcriptions, then AI technology’s accuracy rate could be in the low single digits.
In reality, almost all law enforcement agencies record conversations in less than ideal environments. Plus, if multiple people are speaking over one another, this makes transcribing conversations accurately a challenge for AI programs.
Editing AI Transcription Takes Longer Than Human Transcription
One of the benefits touted by AI enthusiasts over human transcription is the ability to produce work faster. Consider this: if human intervention is necessary to correct AI transcriptions, are you saving either time or money?
Human transcriptionists have an error rate of one percent or less. The error rate for AI transcription continues to hover around 50 percent.
Accuracy Saves Time and Money
With technology improvements, AI transcription will hopefully produce error rates lower than humans. Until then, you’ll need to consider the differences between the two methods and choose the best for your specific needs.