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The Voice in the Machine: Building Computers That Understand Speech Hardcover – March 23, 2012


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The Voice in the Machine: Building Computers That Understand Speech + Spoken Language Processing: A Guide to Theory, Algorithm and System Development + Fundamentals of Speech Recognition
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (March 23, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262016850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262016858
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,054,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"With the explosive growth in speech applications on Android, iPhone and other devices, The Voice in the Machine is a timely read. It relates the 50+ year quest to develop voice recognition and synthesis, explains how the technologies work, and contains enough anecdotes to make it fun."--Alfred Z. Spector, Vice President of Research, Google, Inc.



"There are many books on speech technology, but this is the first to explain the technology against a backdrop of the broader forces that have shaped the field. This will become a must-read text for those interested in what speech technology is and how it has developed."--Robert Dale, Centre for Language Technology, Macquarie University



"Roberto Pieraccini's fascinating book takes us on a tour of human speech, modern techniques for speech understanding and generation, and the problems of deploying it in real industrial applications. By using examples, he conveys the essence of modern statistical speech processing without resorting to mathematics. This book is both entertaining and educational, and highly recommended."--Steve Young, Professor of Information Engineering, University of Cambridge



"This is a fascinating tour of the development of modern speech technologies and applications…A wonderful historical account of the growth of speech technology." -- C. Tappert, Choice

About the Author

Roberto Pieraccini, Director of ICSI, the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, California, has been active for more than thirty years in speech research and technology.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 6 customer reviews
The writing is clear, precise, personal, folksy, with entertaining anecdotes.
Murray Spiegel
Now, I'll eagerly wait a continuation from Roberto Pieraccini to look forward instead of backward, but I strongly suggest to read this marvelous book now.
Paolo Baggia
Nonetheless, the book is a good read for someone interested in this technology.
Samir Bajaj

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Murray Spiegel on October 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Roberto Pieraccini's The Voice in the Machine is a phenomenal read. I found myself enjoying every single page. The writing is clear, precise, personal, folksy, with entertaining anecdotes. As I got closer to the end of the book, I became sadder and sadder, realizing that the time when I would be entertained and educated by Roberto was drawing to a close.

Mostly about developments in the speech recognition field (for completeness, Pieraccini has one chapter on Text-to-Speech), it's a very well-written, comprehensive survey of the history and current developments in speech technology.

It covers everything from the earliest attempts, through all the government-sponsored ARPA speech recognition challenges, to recent commercial deployments. The book would well serve as a reference for a college course or just for leisure reading: it's the best example I've ever seen of a book that explains concepts behind complex math, intuitively, without using a single equation. Roberto's writing style could almost be called poetic. It definitely conveys the passion behind the science. You must get this!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Samir Bajaj on June 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Having just completed a course in NLP, I was looking for an introduction to speech processing in order to prep for more advanced reading on the subject. Pieraccini's book was just what I needed.

The author starts out by describing in convincing detail why human speech is so complex and difficult to understand, and to recreate in a lab or a commercial setting. He then goes on to describe early attempts inspired by AI, eventually arriving at statistical approaches that are the basis of most modern speech processing systems.

I like the book in its broad coverage, and while I do realize that the book is not aimed at techies, I'd have appreciated a little more coverage of HMMs and EM.

At a handful of places, there are some editing oversights that are simply disappointing for a book from a writer of this caliber (Ch. 5: "...De Mori, who pursued a brilliant carrier first at McGill..." -- career, not carrier).

Nonetheless, the book is a good read for someone interested in this technology.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Bloom on June 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As someone who has been in the speech industry for quite some time, I can tell you this book is a terrific starting point for business people and students alike. Pierracini's great anecdotes are what makes this so enjoyable. Whether it's HAL 9000 or Victor Hugo he is employing to convey his point, the author makes learning enjoyable.
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More About the Author

Since January 2012 I am the director of the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) in Berkeley, CA, an independent research institution affiliated with the University of California at Berkeley, which includes world-famous scientists in the most disparate computer science disciplines, such as internet networking and security, computer speech and vision, advanced computer architectures, neurosciences and bio-informatics.

I have been in the speech technology research and business for more than 30 years. Prior to joining ICSI, I was the Chief Technology Officer of SpeechCycle, a company specialized in advanced spoken human-machine interaction systems for enterprise customer care (yes, those annoying "please tell me the reason you are calling about" computers that prevent you to talk to human operators when you need them). Trying to make those annoying computers better, I led an effort to develop new technology that tried to make those computers learn from their own mistakes and, hopefully, improve.

Before SpeechCycle, around 2003-2005, I managed a speech research team at IBM T.J. Watson Research, in Yorktown Heights, NY and prior to that, between 1999 and 2003, I was at SpeechWorks International, which is now known as Nuance, today's largest worldwide computer speech company.

The turning point in my computer speech research carrer was when I joined AT&T Bell Laboratories (which became then AT&T Shannon Laboratories) in 1988, where I worked with some of the most influential scientists in computer speech, such as Larry Rabiner. I arrived at Bell Laboratories from Italy, where in the 1980s I was a researcher at CSELT, the laboratories of the national Italian telephone company.

During all this time, I wrote, as an author or co-author, about 150 scientific papers and articles in the fields of speech recognition, spoken language understanding and dialog, multimodal interaction, and machine learning. I am best known for my original contributions to statistical methods for spoken language understanding and machine learning for spoken dialog systems.

My book "The Voice in the Machine" on the history of computer speech understanding technology, published by MIT Press, tells the story of 60 years of computer speech technology, in a way that is accessible to general scientific readers.

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