IBM’s Watson Versus Human Transcriptionists Who Does Better
It appears the same question keeps arising regarding who could perform a task better, man or machine. Now with the world being totally immersed in technology and questions still arise at least some have a sense of humor regarding comparing man versus machine question. A group assembled to determine which group would be more accurate in transcribing song lyrics man or machine. After Watson’s performance on Jeopardy, he proved his massive knowledge in vast subjects so he was the natural choice to represent machines or new technology. In addition, they found the best precise two transcriptionists to represent man.
The test included a few lines of sung lyrics of four songs from four different artists. The group felt it would be an amusing bonus if some mondegreens as a result of the test. Mondegreens are a result of the interesting misunderstandings of sung lyrics or just words that can be very amusing and funny. The songs were “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift, “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John, and “Running with the Devil” by Van Halen and finally “Ticks” by Brad Paisley. The transcriptionists promised they had never heard the songs and would not search out the lyrics. Further, to keep the playing field as even as possible they sung lyrics only they played none of the music.
The transcriptionists performed perfectly making it through all four-subject lyrics without a single error or missing any words. Unfortunately, for Watson the results were very dismal. Watson missed six words and had four errors with the lyrics to “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift and to the lyrics to “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John, Watson had eight errors and three missed words. Watson did the worse with the lyrics to “Running with the Devil” by Van Halen with nine errors and fifteen missed words. The fourth song the lyrics to “Ticks” by Brad Paisley Watson did no better with twelve errors and missed five words.
Transcriptionists scored zero errors and zero missing words. At least in this one experiment man won by a large margin. Unfortunately, Watson with all his errors and mistakes did not come up with any amusing or weird mondegreens. In fact neither group created any mondegreens.
In this one activity man’s success over Watson was clear, man won. Remember this was just one activity comparing technology and man’s performance. Neither the transcriptionists nor Watson created any amusing or even non-amusing mondegreens. The use of technology has enhanced man’s life by doing things like keeping track of people’s health with a simple band worn on the wrist, to production lines for manufacturing, education online allowing people to complete degrees while still maintaining a full-time job and family life, and more examples than can be mentioned now. Technology definitely is able to do many mundane tasks that free people to achieve other goals.