Speech-to-text with Whisper: How I Use It & Why

Changeset founder Sumana Harihareswara (@[email protected]) writes about using this free machine learning dataset to transcribe audio, including options to run it locally or in the cloud:

This is a really useful (and free!) tool. I have started using it regularly to make transcripts and captions (subtitles), and am writing to share how, and why, and my reflections on the ethics of using it. You can try Whisper using this website where you can upload audio files to transcribe; to run it on your own computer, skip down to “Logistics”.

But while the tool seems to work well, there are ethical considerations:

Whisper was “trained on 680,000 hours of multilingual and multitask supervised data collected from the web”. Collected how? Did the speakers agree to this collection? Does Whisper claim that the legitimacy of its data collection stems from a clause buried in a clickthrough End User License Agreement that does not have any intelligible relationship to genuine human consent? Was copyright infringed? I don’t know, and I did try to check.

Thinking about voice transcription or just interested in learning more? Check out the full blog post on Sumana’s blog. It looks like right now you need to be fairly technical to use it, especially running it on your local computer, but this will probably change quickly!


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