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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 has collaborated with getty images. Wikimedia Commons
Google has collaborated with Getty images. 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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Tech Giant Google To Charge $40 Per Device From Android Makers

While Android will remain free and open source, Google will offer separate licenses to the Google Search app and to Chrome

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Google to charge $40 per device to Android makers. Wikimedia Commons

Android manufacturers will have to pay $40 per device to Google in Europe to be featured into Google Play Store and other mobile apps.

According to a report in The Verge on Friday, a confidential fee schedule shows costs as high as $40 per device to install the “Google Mobile Services” suite of apps.

“The new fees vary depending on country and device type, and it would apply to devices activated on or after February 1st, 2019,” the report said.

“Google is also offering separate agreements to cover some or all of the licensing costs for companies that choose to install Chrome and Google search on their devices as well, according to a person familiar with the terms,” it added.

The tech giant however, has declined to comment.

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A Google logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

Earlier this week, Google said it was updating the compatibility agreements with mobile device makers and may ask them to pay a fee for Google Play and other its other Android apps used in Europe.

The move was to comply with the decision of the European Union’s anti-trust watchdog’s decision against Android.

The European Commission ruled that forcing device manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Chrome was against its competition rules and fined the tech giant a whopping $5.1 billion in July (Google has appealed against the ruling).

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With the new changes to Android that will come into effect on October 29, smartphone makers in Europe will need to pay for certain Google apps.

While Android will remain free and open source, Google will offer separate licenses to the Google Search app and to Chrome. (IANS)