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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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Google Honours Raja Ram Mohan Roy With a Doodle

Roy took a keen interest in European politics and followed the course of the French Revolution

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Google Honours Raja Ram Mohan Roy With a Doodle.
Google Honours Raja Ram Mohan Roy With a Doodle. Pixabay

Google on Tuesday celebrated the 246th birth anniversary of renowned social reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy recognised as the “Father of the Indian Renaissance”, who paved the way for a modern India.

Roy was a non-conformist to many a tradition he was born into on this day in 1772, in Radhanagar village in Murshidabad district of West Bengal.

Although born into a Hindu Brahmin family, where his father Ramkanto Roy, was a Vaishnavite, Roy at a young age left home, shunned orthodox rituals and idol worship and became a staunch supporter of monotheism.

Following his differences with his father, Roy went on a journey that took him far from his roots. He travelled extensively including in Tibet and the Himalayas.

He studied Persian and Arabic along with Sanskrit, which influenced his thinking about God. He read Upanishads, Vedas and the Quran and translated a lot of the scriptures into English.

When he returned home, his parents married him off in a bid to change his outlook. But Roy continued to explore the depths of Hinduism only to highlight its hypocrisy.

After his father’s death in 1803 he moved to Murshidabad, where he published his first book Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhidin (A Gift to Monotheism).

Representational image.
Representational image. IANS

Roy took a keen interest in European politics and followed the course of the French Revolution.

In 1814, he settled in Calcutta, and the following year he founded the Atmiya Sabha. In 1828, he established the Brahmo Samaj, which is considered to be one of India’s first socio-religious reform movements.

However, his most significant contribution as a social engineer was towards women’s rights. Nearly 200 years ago, when evils like — Sati — plagued the society, Roy played a critical role to bring about a change.

He opposed the regressive practice that forced a widow to immolate herself on husband’s pyre.

The doodle on Roy, created by Beena Mistry, a designer based out of Toronto, shows Roy speaking at a public meeting with his detractors in the background. There is also the presence of a woman among the audience, this is at a time when the purdah system was rigidly followed.

He campaigned for equal rights for women, including the right to remarry and the right to hold property.

In 1830, he travelled to the UK as the Mughal Empire’s envoy to ensure that Lord William Bentinck’s law banning the practice of Sati was not overturned.

Also Read: Report: Amazon, Google Lead Global Smart Speaker Market, Apple Stands Fourth

Roy was also one of the pioneers of Indian journalism. He published several journals in Bengali, Persian, Hindi and English to propagate social reforms.

Bengali weekly Samvad Kaumudi was the most important journal that he published. The Atmiya Sabha published an English weekly called the Bengal Gazette and a Persian newspaper called Miratul-Akbar.

Roy died in a village near Bristol in England on September 26, 1833 of meningitis, and was buried there. (IANS)