AI vs. Manual – Why We Still Need a Human Touch for Transcription Services

AI vs. Manual – Why We Still Need a Human Touch for Transcription Services
June 10, 2021 Rachel Tirabassi

By Betty Worthy for GMR Transcription 

Does this sentence make any sense to you? Before you start blaming a human for this error – it is the work of a speech recognition technology. Lately, our dependence on AI (Artificial Intelligence) has increased manifold. Machines are mostly replacing human transcribers. But can a machine ever be a match or surpass a human touch?

The reliance on speech recognition technology is high and the error rates are even higher, making the transcripts rendered useless. According to research comparing the accuracy rates of human transcriptionists and ASR software, human transcriptionists had an error rate of about 4% while commercially available ASR transcription software’s error rate was found to be 12%. Machines or newfound software are not tuned enough, smart, or capable of picking up the human language’s nuances. Popular terms, accents, tones, and idioms, automated transcription software can never understand and gage these as efficiently as a human transcriptionist.

Here is why we still need human transcription services for an error-free transcript.

Better understanding of accents and dialects

A professional transcriptionist is far more experienced than any given superior machine or software. A human transcriptionist can adapt to any dialect or accent. Even if a dialect or accent is unfamiliar, an audio transcription provider can search and come to the right conclusion, whereas a machine is incapable of this. Translation machines are not advanced enough to fully comprehend various accents or dialects. From terminologies to mistranslating words, speech-to-text recognition technology can mix up things that may be beyond understanding.

Knowledge of industry-specific jargon

For comprehensive document transcription, it is advisable to hire a transcriptionist with in-depth knowledge of a particular topic. Human transcriptionists are preferred over machines for medical-based businesses or technical-specific content. An automated transcription software would not be skilled enough to understand homophones (similar sounding words with different meanings).

For example, their or there, dear or deer, night or knight, two, too, or to. If a translation machine is used for medical transcription, it could wrongly interpret dysphagia as dysphasia, or claustrum as colostrum, and could cost a patient’s life.

Similarly, a legal transcriptionist would be familiar with legal jargons. Thus, only experienced business transcription services would be able to do justice and bring value to technical or business-specific content transcripts.

Do away with filler words, side talks, and other background noises

Speech recognition technology is definitely not up to par with human transcription when it comes to differentiating between semi-colon, comma, and other punctuations. Speech-to-text technology uses the verbatim transcription; it captures all spoken words, and even fillers like “uh,” “ah,” “oh,” and “umm.” It also picks up incomplete sentences leading to vague and confusing transcripts. Here professional transcription services come in handy, promising intelligent, edited transcripts done by a human transcriptionist.

For an error-free transcription, the quality of the audio or video file should be good, but the background and other noises can sometimes interfere. If the file is unclear, human transcriptionists can pause, rewind, listen carefully, and pick up pieces to form complete sentences. A human transcriber can easily filter out those background sounds and deliver a precise transcript. Speech recognition technology is not programmed to function in a similar way, resulting in inaccurate audio or video transcription.

Check for facts and bring clarity

There may be instances when the speaker in the audio or video file may say something out of the topic, or the recording might be unclear. A human transcriber can do his/her research, check for facts, join all the missing pieces, and make sense of the incomplete or missing sentences.

With some knowledge and clarity on the topic, a seasoned transcriptionist can gather what is being said and come up with an accurate transcript. Those individuals heavily dependent on speech-to-text technology have to be content with wrong and misleading transcripts. Your automated software cannot check for facts or try to gain clarity on the topic. In worst cases, the machine may just discard the audio or video file.

Identify redundant content and number of speakers

While going through a business meeting, recording or an interview audio clip, automated transcription software will not be able to identify the number of speakers and end up giving a transcript that can be confusing to the reader. While a human transcriptionist would be able to separate one speaker with another.

In case of a multiple speaker audio file, there might be an occurrence of phrases and sentences used several times, leading to redundant content. Human transcribers can play the recording numerous times and pick the best from the assorted content and remove all the unnecessary fillers, talks, and jargon. Only a human can add meaning to the content, keeping the flow going, and giving a well-translated document which results in an error-free and well-edited transcript.

Has the machine really taken over human intelligence?

There are several transcription service providers that run their files through a speech-to-text technology software and later hand over the transcript to humans to proofread and edit. This process does nothing but gives an inaccurate transcription, which is totally misleading. Automated transcription software services have time and again proved that they are not 100% accurate, and transcripts provided by them are not reliable.

On the other hand, a human understands different tones, accents, punctuations, and can distinguish between two sets of speakers. They have the expertise to make the transcript better and legible. A human transcriptionist has an in-depth knowledge of a particular field or industry; the experience gained over the years to comprehend industry-specific jargon gives human transcriptionists an edge over automated transcriptions.

Technology may have taken the lead in different spheres of our lives, but a human touch is still a requisite, especially in transcription services.


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