Speech-to-text: you can't handle the truth!

"Dude be ready" the text message said. Probably. I didn't send it or receive it, I was just sitting next to my wife as she spoke it.

She was using her Droid's speech-to-text capabilities to avoid having to type while she drove to pick someone up. Now the Droid is awesome, but I'm pretty sure the "OR ELSE" I heard in her tone of voice didn't make it into that text message.

Sigh. Yet another way to strip nonverbal cues from our communication.

Every time I see another example, I'm still amazed that the march of technological progress doesn't carry forward all the information content of the old technologies it supersedes. A brief list:
  • Music with lossy compression (flogged here)
  • Speaking face-to-face -> telephone -> text -> speech-to-text
  • Cameras with fixed focus and tiny lenses
Each new technology is more convenient than the last, or makes inroads into new applications. But if computers were like this, your new Windows 7 box wouldn't recognize thumb drives because, hey, you've got online storage now.

Maybe we don't want the details: the closed posture, the reddening complexion, the tightening voice. The kick drum behind the vocalist. The beginnings of a dry brown edge on a flower petal. Maybe we'd say if it doesn't fit on one side of a sheet of paper in doublespaced Courier 12, it hasn't been edited enough yet. Maybe we want plausible deniability. The opportunity to be inhumane through ignorance.

You can't handle the truth! A fleck of spittle lands on Tom Cruise's cheek. Jack Nicholson hasn't had a cigar yet today.