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April 14, 2008

Computer versus human

I think I tend to take my brain for granted.  And I don't really mean my brain in particular, but brains in general. 

My business develops speech recognition applications.  We're not the speech scientists figuring out how to recognize sounds as words, but we take their engines and then build applications on top of them.  Given a limited domain, we can build applications that really do an amazing job of interpreting what a person is saying.  When you encounter a "bad" application, it's usually the result of a designer who's tried to push the technology too far, hasn't given enough consideration to what we call "human factors" or they haven't done a good enough job integrating the speech recognition with the back end systems that retrieve whatever information you are looking for at the moment.

My big sister sent me an email that had the following passage in it, and it reminded me just how amazing our brains are at pattern matching.  I guess software could be written that would be able to interpret the text accurately (it almost makes me want to go download Visual Studio and take a shot at it) but to think that our brains can do this without much effort is pretty cool.  I believe we're still a long way away from a computer being as "smart" as a human.

Can you read this?

I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty  uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig  to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in what oredr the ltteers in a word are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is that the first and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! If you can raed this psas it on  !!

Now sometimes this pattern matching ability gets us in trouble.  In the same email was this little test . . .


Now go back and count how many times the letter 'F' appears.  (Go on, I'll wait for you to count.)

The answer is six.  I'm sure I've seen this before, but it still took a couple of tries to get it right, thanks I imagine to the amazing pattern matcher in my brain.

April 14, 2008 in Speech Recognition | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 07, 2008

Mark Twain quote

I received an email today with this quote in the signature:

All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.

-- Mark Twain

I like it!

April 7, 2008 in Entrepreneurship | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack