The U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) use of automated speech recognition has been a well-guarded secret for years, although its use by the agency is widespread, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
The ramifications of being able to scan, catalog, and archive voice conversations as text are far-reaching in terms of privacy invasion, surveillance, and political advantage, although the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) heavy investment in speech-recognition technology has been public knowledge for decades. The latest DARPA project is the Robust Automatic Transcription of Speech program, which is focused on "noisy or degraded speech signals that are important to military intelligence."
There also is the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity's Babel Program, designed to create "agile and robust speech recognition technology that can be rapidly applied to any human language in order to provide effective search capability for analysts to efficiently process massive amounts of real-world recorded speech."
However, the intelligence agencies and even academia are mostly silent about the surveillance applications of speech recognition. In academic circles, researchers who have received NSA funding are keeping quiet about the technology and how it is used, while those working on non-NSA-related projects can only speculate.
From The Intercept
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