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The human ear can process over 400 words per minute. A computer can calculate formulas and digits by the millions in the same amount of time, but it's ability to both hear and decipher human speech is not so adept.
In a recent comparison between two professional transcriptionists and the big IBM Watson, this above fact was proven with distinct clarity using four pop songs from Van Halen, Elton John, Taylor Swift and Brad Paisley. Now, pop songs have long been a challenge, even to a discerning ear. It's often the reason why people come up with oddball versions lyrics instead of the correct words. So it was a safe guess to assume that the two professional listeners would at least make a mistake here or there having never heard the four song choices before in their lives, honest.
So the experiment went through its paces and everyone listened to the songs, including Watson. The results were a bit shocking. First off, the human transcriptionists didn't just do extremely well, their performance was perfect. On all the songs, they got the lyrics right the first time without any odd word placement or substitution that didn't make sense. The IBM computer system, on the other hand, didn't do so well. Despite its ability to crunch algorithms to amazing exponential results in the space of a few seconds, it had a horrible track record in deciphering and repeating song lyrics correctly.
The IBM computer was given a very good chance to get things right as well. Rather than hear the songs as they would be normally played, the computer got to listen to the lyrics sung without music, so only on the words themselves would be picked up by the electronic receptors and microphones. Unfortunately, this advantage had no effect. The output from the computer not only got the words wrong, it also created sentences that made no sense whatsoever. Anybody reading the output versus that of what the transcriptionists were able to decipher would have to agree the trained human ear still far outpaces and outperforms the computer, hands down.
That said, there's probably no big impact to IBM's Watson computer in terms of its career in the near future. Listening to songs and transcribing them is clearly not the biggest priority for computer resources and valuable server networks. Figuring out the mathematical placement of the next asteroid to hit the Earth probably has a few spots ahead in line of tasks to do with the gadget.
So if you're worried that computers will replace us completely at everything tomorrow, don't be. Taylor Swift and Elton John lyrics are still too much of a challenge.