Given the demographic composition of the United States, it’s no wonder that spoken English varies greatly across the country. According to the US census, there are 35 million non-native English speakers living in the US, of which 60% are native Spanish speakers.
With so many accent variations, how do speech and voice technologies keep up? In a few words: accented speech training data, representative of diverse groups of people. The more people your model can understand, the more likely you are to acquire and retain customers.
The Accent Gap
Bias in speech recognition is a problem. Research shows that speech recognition technologies are not nearly as accurate in understanding nonnative accents as they are in understanding white, non-immigrant, upper-middle-class Americans. It’s called the accent gap, and it is not a surprising phenomenon; the demographic the technology understands is the demographic that trained it from the beginning.
Unfortunately, it has resulted in models that are more useful to some people than to others. And that must change.
However, many companies do not have the resources to train or test their systems with different accents, meaning that speech recognition systems are likely to provide an unresponsive, inaccurate, and even isolating experience to nonnative English speakers.
This is clearly bad for business. “For companies with AI solutions to compete in the large nonnative English-speaking market in the U.S., speech models need to be able to understand a wide range of different Spanish accents, originating from all the Americas,” said Christopher Shulby, Director of Machine Learning Engineering at DefinedCrowd.
Closing the Accent Gap
To enable AI developers to test for the accent gap in their technologies, DefinedCrowd is giving away nine hours of Spanish-accented English speech data from the Americas, worth $1350. Simply register on the marketplace here to download the free dataset.
It’s safe to say that there will never be one “right” way to speak English. But we can agree there’s only one right way to build AI: ethically and inclusively for all demographics, rather than a select few.
DefinedCrowd is a trusted AI data partner that provides a one-stop shop for AI training data. The company offers a suite of products that include a marketplace with off-the-shelf datasets, crowd-as-a-service, and customized AI solutions for NLP, Speech, and Computer Vision technologies.
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