Tuesday January 16, 2018
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Google develops human-like text-to-speech AI

Google's engineers did not reveal much information but they left a big clue for developers to figure out how far they have come in developing this system.

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Google to develop human like text to speech IA. wikimedia commons
Google to develop human like text to speech IA. wikimedia commons
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  • Google is developing text-to-speech AI as an “AI First.”
  • It will also be able to mimic human voices.
  • Not much is revealed, but it can be sure to say that this could be a big success for Google.

In a major step towards its “AI first” dream, Google has developed a text-to-speech artificial intelligence (AI) system that will confuse you with its human-like articulation.

The tech giant’s text-to-speech system called “Tacotron 2” delivers an AI-generated computer speech that almost matches with the voice of humans, technology news website Inc.com reported.

At Google I/O 2017 developers conference, company’s Indian-origin CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the internet giant was shifting its focus from mobile-first to “AI first” and launched several products and features, including Google Lens, Smart Reply for Gmail and Google Assistant for iPhone.

Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai.
Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai.

According to a paper published in arXiv.org, the system first creates a spectrogram of the text, a visual representation of how the speech should sound.

That image is put through Google’s existing WaveNet algorithm, which uses the image and brings AI closer than ever to in-discernibly mimicking human speech. The algorithm can easily learn different voices and even generates artificial breaths.

“Our model achieves a mean opinion score (MOS) of 4.53 comparable to a MOS of 4.58 for professionally recorded speech,” the researchers were quoted as saying.

On the basis of its audio samples, Google claimed that “Tacotron 2” can detect from context the difference between the noun “desert” and the verb “desert,” as well as the noun “present” and the verb “present,” and alter its pronunciation accordingly.

It can place emphasis on capitalised words and apply the proper inflection when asking a question rather than making a statement, the company said in the paper.

Meanwhile, Google’s engineers did not reveal much information but they left a big clue for developers to figure out how far they have come in developing this system.

According to the report, each of the ‘.wav’ file samples has a filename containing either the term “gen” or “gt.”

Based on the paper, it’s highly probable that “gen” indicates speech generated by Tacotron 2 and “gt” is real human speech. (“GT” likely stands for “ground truth,” a machine learning term that basically means “the real deal”.) IANS

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Transforming Human Race: Human to TransHuman to PostHuman

Is it good to become transhuman and extend life and capabilities beyond normal or it is something which will finally destroy us?

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A transhuman is someone who is human, to begin with, but then with the help of technology enhances his capabilities, which are way more than a normal human. Wikimedia Commons
A transhuman is someone who is human, to begin with, but then with the help of technology enhances his capabilities, which are way more than a normal human. Wikimedia Commons

By Dr. Bharti Raizada

  • A Trans-human is someone who is human, to begin with, but then with the help of technology enhances his capabilities
  • Human Race is changing at very fast pace

Have you ever paid attention to the fact that humans are slowly becoming machines? The number of mechanical and electrical devices, in the human body, are increasing at a fast pace. Even parents of a child need not be humans. They can be agencies, trust, bodies, department etc.

First of all. Lets us figure out, who is a human? Any idea? Think for a minute. What makes us human? Is it our genes, our thinking capabilities, our consciousness, spirituality, physical abilities, look, our erect posture, ability to walk on feet, or something else? As per Merriam Webster dictionary, a human is a bipedal primate mammal.

An extreme form of the transhuman is called posthuman. Wikimedia Commons
An extreme form of the transhuman is called posthuman. Wikimedia Commons
What is a Transhuman?

A transhuman is someone who is human, to begin with, but then with the help of technology enhances his capabilities, which are way more than a normal human. Means more intelligence, psychological capability, strength or physical stamina. There is either extension of life, improved quality of life or more capabilities or all of these. An extreme form of the transhuman is called posthuman. Posthuman is a being made up of artificial parts, with minimal or no human attributes remaining.

In stories or fiction, this type of human is called Cyborg or Bionic human or a genetically enhanced human.

Also Read: Analytic thought developed for children with sight disabilities

Change from human to trans human can be achieved by various mechanical or electrical devices, Gene therapy, Artificial intelligence, Nanotechnology, Genetic engineering, Cloning etc. Are you aware that technology is being developed to upload the mind to a computer and print human organs?

Following are the examples of some artificial things which change humans to Transhumans:

Bionic eyes or visual prosthesis

Intraocular lenses/Contact lenses

Artificial voice box

Artificial limbs

Nails/pins in bones

Artificial knees/hips

Neurostimulators

Penile prosthesis

Artificial heart

Artificial heart valves

Pacemakers

Defibrillators

Ventricular assist devices

Transcranial direct current stimulation

Powered exoskeletons

Ear chips etc.

Also Read: New-gen robots to refuel and repair friendly satellites

The difference between humans and technology is narrowing down. Wikimedia Commons
The difference between humans and technology is narrowing down. Wikimedia Commons

So, what are your thoughts? Is it good to become transhuman and extend life and capabilities beyond normal or it is something which will finally destroy us.

How arrogant will we be if we become eternal? Will there be a population explosion on planet earth? Will we still be eating food and reproducing? What about natural resources? Will there be a need to inhabit other planets? What will happen if we all are very high tech and have equal IQ? Who will rule us? How are we going to interact with each other? Will there still be feelings left? Will we still seek eternal happiness?

So, the basic question is what do you prefer? Stay as a human? Or become a transhuman or posthuman? Or something in the middle? And what is that middle? Where will you stop?

Do share your opinion!

Bharti Raizada, M.D. practices Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine in Chicago, Illinois, USA.