“Aren’t you worried Siri will steal your job?” we’re asked. “It’s only a matter of time, you know.”
Actually, they’re probably right. At some point in the future, robots with artificial intelligence will replace all of our jobs. And while voice recognition technology could be integrated more heavily into our role as transcribers, court reporting as a whole will be safe for years to come. Here are a few reasons why:
- The technology just isn’t ready to go it alone. Voice recognition requires a lot of human editing to achieve a useful finished product. Best-case scenario, it might be fine to transcribe a single user who speaks slowly and clearly, but the introduction of multiple speakers is still a definite problem. While computers may be fantastic at playing chess, they still have a way to go to keep up when things get heated and people start to talk over each other.
- At best, voice recognition software can be used as a backup or default mechanism. It could possibly catch some inaudible speech that the reporter missed, but the acoustics of a room, variety of accents, misused slang, and competing voices all contribute to the necessity of immediate human interpretation and clarification.
- Replacing court reporters and human employees with voice recognition technology is an expensive endeavor. There simply isn’t yet a better and more affordable option than paying a professional to sit in a courtroom and do what they’ve been trained to accomplish.
- Computers are unable to differentiate the many nuances between similar words and phrases, and cannot recognize errors in real time. This industry doesn’t simply rely on the basic recording of words; it is bolstered by our inherent knowledge and instant interpretation of the language.
The following words, gleaned from the deposition of a neurologist, serve as an outstanding reminder: “Our brains are a miracle. Look at the Court Reporter here as an example, okay? This is a miracle in progress, happening right before our eyes. Let me explain what is happening here. I am speaking, so the information needs to come in through her ears, go through her temporal lobe, and then it has to go log itself into the language center. She has to be able to comprehend what I’m saying, then it gets rerouted to the prefrontal cortex where she has to hold the information, because I’m talking faster than she is typing. Then she has to analyze it, integrate it, and synthesize it. Then it has to go back to the cerebellum to be to be converted into these little symbols. Have you ever seen them? She is converting what I am saying into a different language. And the white matter tracts allow her to reroute all this information accurately and simultaneously, seemingly without effort. Seamlessly. OK? That is why I believe Court Reporters will never be replaced. Because no technology could ever replace the beauty and the miracle of the brain.”
So use this as a primer before your next dinner party. Better yet, be ready to make your case the next time an aspiring court reporter asks you for advice. This is a fantastic career with a vibrant outlook. The freshest technology doesn’t threaten our livelihoods; it only adds to our skills and expertise.