Guess Who’s Better at Figuring Out Song Lyrics
Does a super robot really care what song lyrics mean? Does a super robot care what any word means? Robots have their time and place, assembling cars, traveling to the moon and bomb detonation. But can they accomplish voice transcription more successfully than humans? A challenge to figure this out was recently conducted between IBM Watson, known as the smartest robot ever and two professional transcriptionists. After all, Watson kept Jeopardy fans on the edge of their seats when he appeared on the famous game show. Let’s see how he rocks to the transcription beat.
The competitors were asked to listen and then transcribe the lyrics to four songs. They would evaluate each one for correct words and missing words in each selection. One would think this would be an easy task for a super robot, but the results were surprising. The super robot scored lower than his human competitors on all four! When asked to transcribe Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble”, Watson omitted six words and misunderstood four changing the song from a pop hit to a group of words that made absolutely no sense . For example, he transcribed, “I was in your sights. You got me alone.” to “I was then you say, You got me a loon. Human challenger, Scheane, scored 100% getting all the lyrics correct. Was it Taylor’s famous accent that threw our robotic challenger off?
Next Van Halen’s classic, “Running With The Devil” was tested. Our robot challenger failed by omitting 15 words from the lyrics and racking up nine errors. He turned, “least I don’t need to beg or borrow,” into “the startled me truck bed, though barlow.” Human challenger Colby proved robots should leave transcribing, or at least the music to their human creators with his perfectly transcribed results. This trend continues as Watson transcribed Elton John’s classic, “Tiny Dancer ” and Brad Paisley’s country love song “Ticks.” It was a double fail for Watson as he was totally out of tune turning Elton’s “Blue Jean Baby” into a “Blue Jean Bear.” Watson’s mistakes totaled 11 unlike human challenger Scheane’s who didn’t miss a beat with a perfect score. The final selection was to transcribe the lyrics to country star Brad Paisley’s “Ticks.” Watson’s version fell flat by missing five words and adding up even more errors. Human challenger Colby’s results were pitch perfect with no errors.
Maybe our friend Watson has a future in writing riddles, because that is what some of his transcribed lyrics turned into. He’s proven a bit unscientifically that his speech to text powers aren’t as powerful as his historic performance was on Jeopardy.