Managing Our New Robot Overlords

Adopting AI (Artificial Intelligence) technologies in the court reporting industry is one of the most complex issues of our generation, despite the great promise that AI holds for CAT (computer-aided transcription) software vendors looking to create a better and faster experience for its customers and higher translation rates for the ultimate end users of a reporters’ realtime feed.

Applying AI technologies is a critical competitive advantage. Even once we have a sense of how we could serve our market with AI, adopting and scaling these technologies within our industry is a behemoth of an undertaking. The conventional wisdom – to start small – has given way to a recognition that organizations need a fundamental shift in their approach to data to do even that well. Onboarding AI is not an easy undertaking.

Especially as the pandemic has accelerated the use of remote technologies — such as Zoom who has incorporated ASR (automated speech recognition) technology into their platform for judges and attorneys to use, instead of a stenographer’s realtime streaming — the big question on everyone’s mind is whether all that onboarding eventually means that the ASR bots are going to take all our human jobs. The promising answer from most experts is that there will certainly be roles for humans even in a machine-powered future; the real question is what those jobs will be, how our court reporting industry can prepare our workforce to incorporate emerging AI technology, and how human stenographers and AI will work together.

Finally, the question at the crux of any discussion about AI and ASR is this: Are we managing the machines, or are they managing us? Leaders need to set boundaries for the bots (ASR, AI), ethical, legal, and otherwise. There are a myriad of ways that AI’s tentacles can reach dangerously beyond what we expect – so we need to learn how to keep them reined in.

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