Man-Computer Symbiosis Nugget

This entire article was almost comical to me just picturing what computers were like in 1960 when J.C.R.Licklider wrote this. They took up entire rooms and were slow and loud and to a degree pointless and impractical.


The feasibility of automatic speech recognition depends heavily upon the size of the vocabulary of words to be recognized and upon the diversity of talkers and accents with which it must work. Ninety-eight per cent correct recognition of naturally spoken decimal digits was demonstrated several years ago at the Bell Telephone Laboratories and at the Lincoln Laboratory [4], [9]. To go a step up the scale of vocabulary size, we may say that an automatic recognizer of clearly spoken alpha-numerical characters can almost surely be developed now on the basis of existing knowledge. Since untrained operators can read at least as rapidly as trained ones can type, such a device would be a convenient tool in almost any computer installation.”

This paragraph in particular stands out to me, mostly because as i sit with my MacBook in my lap and my iPhone resting on my knee (always in my sight and ear shot) in front of a TV connected to the internet playing music in the background, I realize just how far we have come technologically in such a short amount of time and how Licklider could almost see into the future with his ideas. In this paragraph he speaks of language recognition of words that a computer could recognize depending on accent when all the devices surrounding me have surpassed even his wildest thoughts and dreams on this one front.

He stated that a computer knowing 1,000 basic english words and 1,000 technical words would be enough, where Siri knows over 5,000 and that is considered limited (think about how many times you’ve wanted to chuck your iPhone at a wall when Siri doesn’t “get it”). Siri can speak 8 languages and they’re always adding to her knowledge.


It is astounding to think of what we have at our fingertips. And the leaps and bounds that are being made still each and every day.


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