Humans invented intelligent robots and artificial intelligence (AI) systems to automate manual tasks and perform them more quickly and accurately. Natural Language Processing (NLP), one of the many branches of AI, is the application of computational techniques to interpret human speech and text. AI-powered video and audio transcription services provide real-time transcription and captioning solutions for various types of businesses. Human transcription involves humans listening to an audio file and transcribing it. So which is better – AI-based or manual transcription? It depends on accuracy.

How AI Transcription Works and its Benefits

NLP technology uses algorithms to interpret human text and performs analysis to track the context of the speech/text. As the technology translates speech into text, there is no human involvement in the process. AI can convert both live and recorded audio/video into text instantly. AI enabled transcription is useful in many settings:

  • Provides real-time transcription: Physicians can get a text version of their dictation in real-time and overcome the burden of clinical documentation.
  • Overcomes shortage of human workers: Allows law firms to overcome shortage of human stenographers and get shareable transcripts of legal proceedings in minutes.
  • Boosts inclusiveness: Enables students with hearing disabilities to participate equally in the classroom by delivering real-time notes of lectures.
  • Speed: Can transcribe lengthy interviews, calls, podcasts, and lectures in minutes. For example, top AI transcription tool Otter.ai takes just 5 to 6 minutes to transcribe a 15-minute audio recording.
  • Automates repetitive tasks: AI tools automate menial, repetitive, and time-consuming work. For example, speech-to-text can include timestamps which are useful for analyzing longer audio files, where the user needs to search for a particular word in the text and locate it in the original audio.
  • Can annotate transcriptions: Makes it possible to identify different speakers and allows users to annotate transcriptions, and create soundbites of key sections from lengthy audio files.
  • Can integrate with office systems: By integrating with other office systems, AI transcription software can automate sending meeting records and notes directly to your CRM or other project management tools. This saves time and improves productivity.

To sum up, AI technology can generate very usable transcripts quickly and can be cost-effective too.

Drawbacks of AI-powered Transcription

  • Does not understand complex speech: Though AI speech recognition tools have evolved over the years, one of the main drawbacks is that it will not understand the complexity of slang, idioms, names, dialects, accents, certain pronunciations and nuances found in audio files. As Rev points out, AI transcription tools learn only after a mistake is made and corrected. AI transcription services for applications such as health care and legal will need to be trained to understand specific nomenclature or pre-fed with specific, custom vocabulary including phrases, acronyms, or terms used in your industry.
  • Cannot handle multi-faceted words or homophones: If the document has words with multiple meanings, AI may produce inaccurate transcription. Likewise, it may go wrong with homophones – two or more words that have the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling (for example ‘there’ and ‘their’, ‘knew’ and ‘new’).
  • Cannot ensure the required accuracy: Automatic transcription does not provide the standard 99% accuracy rate which many industries need. It is a feasible option only if the recording is not complex and perfectly accurate results are not required.

Manual Transcription: Pros and Cons

Manual transcription is the conversion of speech into accurate and legible text format by professional human transcriptionists. The result is high-quality transcripts that comply with industry guidelines.

The major benefit of manual transcription is its accuracy. Professional transcription services come with an accuracy rate of 99%, making it the right option for medical, legal and academic purposes.

In a test conducted to evaluate transcription accuracy, it was found that human transcriptionists did an “excellent job” with a more difficult audio file, whereas most automatic services produced nearly unusable results, according to an article published by www.pcmagazine.com). The authors compared excerpts from a two-person podcast for English language learners and a recording of three sports pundits discussing their expectations for the approaching basketball season. Though automatic services provided greater accuracy for the second (easier) recording, they were not perfect.

The authors concluded that automatic services are only useful for simple recordings that don’t need top accuracy, personal voice memos and similar applications, but not for a professional setting.

Coming to the cons, manual transcription is more costly and time consuming than its counterpart. Manual transcription is costly and more time consuming than automated solutions. According to one report, a skilled and accomplished human transcriptionist can take up to 10 hours to transcribe a single hour of an audio or video file (www.caseguard.com). However, a reliable business transcription company would have transcriptionists who subject matter experts in various fields and can provide accurate transcripts to meet client deadlines.

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AI Transcription and Human Transcription

The Solution: Complement AI with Human Transcription

Finding the right balance between human and artificial intelligence is the key to success. If you need speedy transcription, use an AI-powered solution. To ensure the highest levels of accuracy, complement the AI with human audio transcription services. Human editors can vet the machine-generated transcripts to ensure accurate transcription. Combining machines and humans will accelerate business success.