Tuesday December 11, 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 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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Australia Proposes To Strengthen Regulations of Facebook, Google

Facebook has 17 million monthly users in Australia -- 68 per cent of its population -- while Instagram, second most popular site in terms of users - which is owned by Facebook, has 11 million users

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Australia recommends strengthening regulation of Facebook, Google. Pixabay

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Monday proposed measures to counter the dominant market positions of Google and Facebook and strengthen monitoring on their access to information, advertising and consumers personal data.

The regulatory body, which recommended 11 preliminary measures in the report, was directed to conduct a public inquiry into the impact of digital search engines, social media platforms and other digital content in 2017 by then treasurer and current Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Acting as an intermediary between consumers and news outlets, platforms are inherently influential in shaping consumers’ choices of digital journalism,” said the report cited by Efe news.

This influential position and filtration of news items could place the consumer in a so-called filter bubble, increasing the risk of consumers being exposed to unreliable news, according to the report.

“The algorithms operated by each of Google and Facebook, as well as other policies, determine which content is surfaced and displayed to consumers in news feed and search results,” it said.

“The ACCC considers that the strong market position of digital platforms like Google and Facebook justifies a greater level of regulatory oversight,” Chair Rod Sims said.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

The commission called for the creation of a regulatory authority with powers to monitor these digital platforms and recommended establishing an automatic mechanism to take down content that violates copyright.

The ACCC said consumers should be informed about the manner in which these platforms collect and use their data to create personalized advertising.

This would include a reform of privacy laws to require the user’s express consent to data collection and “enable consumers to require erasure of their personal information where they have withdrawn their consent”.

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ACCC said that it found that “competition may have been distorted in multiple sectors where consumer data is used”.

Facebook has 17 million monthly users in Australia — 68 per cent of its population — while Instagram, second most popular site in terms of users – which is owned by Facebook, has 11 million users.

In 2017, Google registered 90 per cent of search traffic originating from Australian desktops and 98 per cent from mobile phones. (IANS)