A friendly wager

Voice Card  -  Volume 15  -  John Card Number 17  -  Wed, Jul 25, 1990 02:02 AM

While at the big wedding, Roger and I formalized a wager we made a year or so ago. I want to record it here so that we will have something to refer back to later in the decade.

[Roger: if you have any amendments or corrections, speak now or forever hold your piece.]

Essentially, I am betting that a relatively inexpensive voice recognition system will be available to provide automatic dictation before the end of the decade. Roger thinks I'm dreaming.

Here then are our formal conditions:

  1. The deadline date is December 31, 1999 at 11:59 PM. If the conditions are met before this time, John wins. Otherwise, Roger wins.
  2. The hardware/software automatic dictation package, hereafter referred to as "the machine," will cost no more than $5000 (in 1990 dollars).
  3. The machine will possess a full English vocabulary such as can be found in Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.
  4. When operated under reasonable conditions (with a mike in good working condition and without excessive background noise), the machine should be able to understand any English-speaking person, regardless of accent, where "person" is defined as an adult without speech impediments.
  5. The machine should not require any training, that is, a person should be able to use the machine "cold" without first reciting a set of special phrases.
  6. The machine is allowed to ask for clarification, on average, at a rate of no more than one word per 100 sentences.
  7. The emotional state of the speaker should have no significant effect on the machine's ability to recognize speech (that is, condition six will still apply even if the person speaking is angry or frightened).
  8. The machine will be able to print out a written transcript of what was spoken.
  9. In case of a dispute, a panel of three impartial judges will be assembled to settle the bet.
  10. Regardless of the other conditions, John will automatically win the bet if a dictation machine costing less than $10,000 (1990 dollars) is used in an American court of law for stand alone court transcription.
  11. THE WAGER: within six months of the time the bet is settled, the loser will proceed to a public spot of the victor's choosing and will LOUDLY READ a brief proclamation of no more than 250 words written by the victor in the presence of the victor, or the victor's proxy. Afterwards, the loser will buy the winner dinner at a restaurant of the winner's choice.
As Roger mentioned in his Hello card, we would be interested to hear the reactions of any or all Archipelagoans to this friendly wager. Feel free to place side bets or to make predictions or comments of any kind.

And, of course, you are all invited to watch Roger read my proclamation a little later in this decade.