It's summer, it’s hot, you’ve already drunk your recommended two litres of water per day but there’s still the whole evening to get through. What harm can it do to quench your thirst with cool XL mojitos?
Try telling yourself that the morning after. The splitting head might pass, but when you find three or more Whatsapp conversations that are impossible to decipher, sent at improbable hours, it’s another story entirely. And you don’t even remember what they were about.
There’s a plethora of apps designed to block certain functions of your smartphone, that you can activate when you realise the evening’s about to get challenging, which stop you sending a message - or a whole series of messages - you might regret when you sober up.
These insidious messages get sent regardless, unless you forget (or lose) your phone. Is there another way of filtering them and making them just a little bit less embarrassing?
Google, as ever, has found the answer. Or rather, it’s invented: it’s called Tacotron, and it’s a text-to-speech system that can interpret your messages, even the most confused ones.
So how does it differ from its competitors, DeepMind’s acclaimed WaveNet, among others, also from the Google stable? First and foremost, thanks to the used of an extensive database that includes more than 24 hours of speech data in American English, Tacotron is the first system that’s capable of distinguishing variations in intonation and accent.
Even though its voice register is still nowhere near human, Tacotron understands and replicates changes in tone on the basis of context - coming dangerously close, however, to the Uncanny Valley.
Tacotron was designed above all with the aim of smoothing out the errors and mistakes that occr - sorry, occur in hastily-written text, like smartphone messages.
It's sensitive to capital letters and punctuation - at last, your full stop at the end of a message can be correctly interpreted for what it is: anger and disappointment - and can therefore give a sentence the proper stress, thanks to a mechanism that uses these indicators.
To do all this, Tacotron uses a type of artificial intelligence which, thanks to Machine Learning, can learn how you speak and write and automates all your future decisions, from prosody to semantics; making it perfect to interpret and correct those embarrassing messages on these hot summer nights.
Most of all because - unlike all its competitors - it’s really fast. Or at least, faster than you when you’re tipsy.
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