The Digital Brute : The dangers of automated transcriptions on YouTube

An amusing collection of automated subtitle errors from the fourth episode of The Digital Brew. What does this tell us about automated language recognition?

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Our regular readers will hopefully know about our new ‘The Digital Brew‘ series of videos.

I have been meaning to upload a transcript of the chats to our blog since I edited the first episode (we do know a little about SEO after all…). Short on time, I thought that I would have a look at the automated transcript feature of YouTube to see how much editing would be required, as the ability to purchase professional transcriptions has been removed in June 2017 :-(

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much as I have seen automated translation / transcription go horribly wrong in the past, but the exercise actually proved to be pretty funny and I wanted to share some of the more notable errors in the first minute of the latest episode: 

1] Straight off the bat, YouTube has kindly renamed ‘The Digital Brew‘ to a far more aggressive name:


2] My introduction to Matt stating that “you and I have obviously known each other for a few years” was changed to the startling news that I have more children than I thought:



3] Not only do I have several teenage children that I didn’t know about, Matt’s statement about being “CEO and technical co-founder of Ably” takes on a much more biological tone:



4] Matt’s prior role (“co-founder and CTO of Econsultancy, which we did a trade sale back in 2012“) is also fairly wide of the mark, although I am pretty sure that Econsultancy did indeed not trade any soil during 2012:



5] Lastly, it is good to see that YouTube is keen to keep the ‘brew’ element of our videos alive and kicking as my comment about “…hype about stuff and to be brutally frank, I don’t understand real time…” is transcribed to me making a cup of tea for my mother:



I know that I can mumble at times, but Matt is very clear and I hope you will agree that there is some room for improvement in the automated transcriptions.

I can feel an urge to turn the subtitles on for all YouTube videos in the future to find some more gems…



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