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CMU Sphinx Open Sourced

emmett posted more than 14 years ago | from the get-it-while-you-can dept.

News 144

Mandrake wrote in: "CMU Sphinx (the speech recognition software being developed at CMU being funded by DARPA and NSF for the last 15 years) has gone open source and is up for download on SourceForge. You can check out the announcement, go to the home page at CMU, or download the code for yourself. It should build out-of-box on several platforms, linux, freebsd, sun4m, etc. - but work is still needed. Help with documentation would be greatly appreciated, too. It's important that people grab this stuff ASAP, too, just in case some people decide to go after it for potential patent violations (we all know how much people love the patent system)."

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144 comments

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Re:Irking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318497)

He's not off-topic. In fact, when I read the front page, the clear message I saw was that the original author believed that the material in question was being distributed illegally, and was asking others to conspire with him to steal material protected by legally granted patents. That would not be protected speech anywhere. No one has the right to engage in speech which incites illegal activity, in any jurisdiction in the world; that's what conspiracy laws are all about. Moveover, because the contents of the front page are edited by employees of the company, and are not always included in full, Andover.net would share the legal risk occasioned by this posting. The "common carrier" exemption does not apply to content over which the carrier exercises editorial control.

Oh, and your comment about juries is wrong. Juries in the States do not have the right to invalidate a law. Juries determine the facts of a case, and often have a say in the penalties which should be levied, in any, but they do not determine which laws apply. They can choose not to hold individuals responsible for violations of a law--that's the core of the necessity defense, for instance--but they can't rule on the constitutionality of the law, nor can they attempt to directly invalidate it. That power is vested in the judges or in the legistlative branch of the government, not in juries.

"ethics and legality"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318502)

You say it like they are interchangeble.

Re:Irking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318503)

It is most likely that CMU has been pretty carefull about patents and stuff. I would think/hope that universities learned their lesson when AT&T tried fucking with Berkely about BSD. It would be pretty stupid of CMU to release something with out letting their lawyers give the go-ahead.

As for /. encouraging people to download the stuff one can argue in true Raymondism that they are a mother station to a gift culture that tries to protect people from patent bullies and encourages intectual advance.

Re:Why Don Knots? Why Knot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318505)

More info [dorsai.org] on his latest work.

What a great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318506)

Thank you for excusing me from having to follow laws with which I don't agree. I'm going to run right out and by a .45 to carry in my waistband.

You know "The Free Software Community" (as represented by Slashdot) was pretty quick to rationalize the Google search engine patent. Most of the posts said it was ok because it "really WAS innovative."

But then, YOU just said that software patents are wrong -- you didn't make an exception for Google. I guess there is an understood clause that software patents are bad, except when Slashdotters think someone cool is using them.

1. Don't you ever, EVER pretend to speak for "most of us." You don't. It doesn't matter whether I agree with a patent, I follow the damn law and work to change it through the correct channels. You might consider writing to your representatives, but then you're probably one of those semi-literate hacker-wannabes who thinks the First Amendment protects "thier write to free speach." I doubt your letter would do much more than provoke a discussion on how our schools are failing to teach grammar and spelling.

2. There's nothing "evil" about the US patent system. It has a flaw with regard to software. The standards are too low. It needs to be fixed. In time, it probably will be fixed. Calling attention to yourself as "fighting the man" by breaking the law and then sputtering your rationalization for it on Slashdot won't fix it. Claiming that your actions are supported by "The Free Software Community" is damned irresponsible. Not all of us want to be painted with the same brush you are actively seeking. Some of us would rather concentrate on changing the situation for good.

-- I like you. You remind of myself when I was young and stupid. --

Counter example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318507)

What if someone got a patent on the Turing machine? It can be expressed algorithmically. They patent the concept, and then, every computer, emulator, script interperter, and many other things would be difficult to profit from because you would have to pay royalties to the person who patented the Turing machine. You tell me: Does this stifle imitation or innovation? Money isn't everything. Greed should not be the motivating force for engineers.

Re:Comparisons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318508)

I tried IBM Viavoice under linux some time ago, and what's make it good was that Viavoice tries to make sense of your sentence, in context.

Hey, I was speaking in french, and the english sentences were not too bad ;-)

Re:cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318509)

I hate it when lame comments like this one get an automatic 2 rating. I used to be able to surf at 2 and not see drivel.

Moderate this up further! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318510)

Thanks for clarifying that... the absence of the trainer scared me there for a bit.

It makes a refreshing change from seeing HTK being hijacked for pretty much exclusive use of m$. (or if they ever release it for research again it will probably be under a very restrictive license)

Ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318511)

GregWebb said, "Let's be honest here, proper development is referred to as Software Engineering with good reason. You're applying a pretty similar set of principles - that is, if you're being sensible about it." You are obviously very ignorant, when it comes to methods of software development. With the wide variety of functional languages, software can be developed through a process sometimes called "synthesis". "Synthesis" is the process of program derivation from the specifications (typically mathematical induction cases). This allows for concise code that fills in the gaps of the inductive proofs for the program. I assume that you mainly do imperative programming. The thought of writing a 4 line quick-sort that can be mathematically proven to be correct probably sounds like fantasy to you. The benefit of inductive synthesis of programs, in functional programming, is that software development becomes a mathematical process, as opposed to a process of trial and error. To learn more about functional programming, check out: www.haskell.org and www.mozart-oz.org

Re:Irking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318514)

2 things:

Either there's a SLASH bug causing comments to be posted in the wrong story, or you are offtopic as offtopic can be.

While every citizen has an inherent duty to not wrong others (torts), s/he also has an inherent duty to protest unjust laws in a non-violent manner. In the US, at least, a jury can, besides returning guilty/notguilty/we can't make up our minds, also declare that the law violated is unjust (though this doesn't happen much) and it's ok to violate it.

The truth hurts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318515)

Before you get viciously flamed by the slobbering slashduh crowd, let me just be the first to say that you've made one helluva good point.

Now duck and cover.

Re:Irking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318517)

Are you some unfrozen caveman ?
Software patents are obsolete, they are obstacles to innovation. I agree with the editorial note.


Free Jon's computers !

HAL9000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318519)

We just need someone that adds it to KDE or/and GNOME and HAL9000 becomes nearer...

http://fofoca.mitre.org ???? (0)

ksan (24007) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318520)

I think there's a brasilian one at MITRE because "fofoca" is a portuguese word that means "gossip" in english.

Just my .02 cents.

Re:This is great! (0)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318521)

It is, you jackass. The most recent releases of Slash are under the GPL. You can do whatever you want with them.

My apologies for feeding the trolls...

-----------

"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Re:Irking (0)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318522)

Thank you Alexander Hamilton. Thomas Jefferson would like to speak with you.

And Sally Jeffords would like to speak to you. It's awfully hard to take Jefferson the rapist terribly seriously when he talks about the rights and powers of individuals.

Jury nullification does exist; juries can simply refuse to convict or to hold liable. Hell, Microsoft was found liable for unfair trade practicies earlier this year--and fined $1. That's the moral equivalent of nullification. However, judges have the authority to declare a mistrial in the case of significant misconduct by the members of a jury.

Good point. (0)

kwsNI (133721) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318523)

Good point. I completely agree that Slashdot should be more careful about anything that could be mis-interpreted as promoting patent violations.

That said - I think that the comment about grabbing it while you can was more of a jab at the MPAA over the DeCSS lawsuit than an actual statement that this is a patent violation. I don't feel that there is anything here that could be a patent violation (IANAL) - just that the comment was meant to be funny.

kwsNI

morality != legality (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318524)

law is supposed to be derived from morality, Not the other way around.

There are cases where a law is passed that does not help(and sometimes hurts) the public.

Bad laws have been passed for:
purposeful racial discrimination
purposeful religious intolerance
Corporate greed to protect/extend exclusive rights to information.


You have two for such laws:
1) Beg the government to change the law. To do this, you will often need more money and power than whoever backed the law.
2) Ignore the law, knowing that:
It is unenforcible.
and/or
If taken to a higher court, the law will be struck down.(Assuming that judges are less bribed than congress)

For the specific issue at hand, 2 applies.
As we have seen with mp3 and as we will see with CSS, It is very dificult to enforce a software patent when open source implementations exist, as there is really no-one to sue, except the whole internet, which is not feasible(As CCA will see).

This is a hand me out... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318525)

AFAICS this is an old version they have stopped development on... plus without the trainer being open source its not even a good platform for further development IMO.

Or am I missing something?

Re:Irking (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318526)

Well, I'm going to rehash some things from previous discussions here:

1. Computer science/coding is ill suited for patenting, because many "best practices", common practices, and obvious things simply aren't documented. The culture of programming is very much an oral tradition, learned by watching others and asking questions of them.

2. In the U.S., patent examiners have an incentive to not challenge patent applications - the applicant can haul them into court to explain why they denied the patent, but they don't have to explain why they approved it. Not to mention most examiners aren't involved/knowledgeable enough about computer science in the first place.

3. Patents these days are being used as another form of cash that is being traded around by companies - ie, Motorola and AMD cross-licencing patents, various companies trading patents for other incentives, etc. If you don't have patents, you don't have anything to trade for/with (okay, not a software example, but the principle still holds).

4. Challenging existing patents in court can get expensive, not something the average Joe can do. Some companies can get away with threatening to enforce patents, simply because whoever is "violating" the patent can't afford to fight it.

And there are countless examples of bad software patents, too numerous to mention, that effectively stifle innovation, contrary to the original intent of patents.

If you all remember the /. interview with the patent attorneys, you'll remember that it's actually advisable not to look up patents: if you get taken to court over a patent violation, you'll get a lesser penalty if you didn't know you were violating a patent than if you did know. Which creates sort of a catch-22 - develop a product, if it's violating a patent, you'll never know unless you get sued, at which point all your efforts have been wasted.

Much of this has been stated previously by RMS and/or ESR and various other people. A good resource for this is the FSF [fsf.org] .

AAAGH! *YESS*!! (1)

washort (6555) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318533)

I've been waiting a long time for something like this!
Thanks, oznoid &co. - now i'm off to start a language model for Lojban [lojban.org] !

Re:Legalities v. Moralities. (1)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318534)

Jefferson would have cheered the overthrow of a corrupt or abusive government. What we have here is not even remotely close to fitting that description. The Declarations words are not to be taken lightly; just because you don't *like* the system does not mean it needs to be overthrown.

No, but we are entering the Information Age. Information is becoming increasingly important - and so too is the right to access it. I also firmly believe in the right of the people to change it's government whenever they are unhappy with it - for any reason, no matter how trivial. Here myself and Jefferson part ways. There is no "mostly" democratic, for me it's an all-or-nothing proposition, in the same way that you can't have "mostly" free speech. Information is power. The power belongs in the hands of the people - NOT the various economic entities that make up this country. If the people want to abolish IP and patents, it should be expressly allowed.

People pirate MP3s, not because they feel that IP should be dissolved, but because they have little or no respect for existing laws.

So all people who pirate mp3s are anarchists? Seems rather broad there. Tell me, have you ever found yourself speeding down the freeway? Weren't you violating the law? Didn't you feel any remorse? Any fool can make a law, and any fool will mind it. I reserve the right to protest and/or disregard any law if it disagrees with my own moral compass. I also accept the responsiblity of my actions. If I am pulled over and given a ticket, I will pay it. That was my cost for violating the law.

Going alittle further into this, and at the risk of losing sight of the original topic, I would also point out that IP violations seem to have far worse fines than even raping somebody - is this reasonable? Should we not clamor for reasonable punishment for violations of the law? This is another problem I have with so-called "intellectual property" rights - since when was your computer somebody else's property? What right do they have to break into your home, and take your computer? Why can't they simply remove the offending content (or backup your harddrive and return your data immediately)? This totalitarian form of punishment is hardly justifiable - and is not in line with this society's views on what is right and wrong. The law should follow the accepted beliefs and practices of it's citizens, not the other way around.

Re:Put simply... (1)

FigWig (10981) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318537)

Facts:
1. The US Patent Office is inundated with patents that it doesn't have the expertise to judge.
2. Mathematical formulas ARE NOT patentable. This is the law.
3. The only way to legally challenge these patents would require a ton of money.

Conclusion?
Civil disobedience is justified in correcting the restrictions on our freedom to think imposed by incorrect patents.

All this overly broad patenting & trade secrets makes me feel like we are going back to the times of guilds, where you would get jailed for sharing secrets of the trade.

Re:cool (1)

Fat Cow (13247) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318538)

there's a better idea out there for how to wrap the library. there's a project called "free speech" (you can get it on freshmeat) that is implementing it as a daemon that apps can connect to when they want speech input.

Re:morality != legality (1)

Zico (14255) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318540)

No offense, but you sound like a warez kiddie trying to justify your thefts, railing against bogeymen like corporate greed and those corrupt politicians.

First, to both you and the original person who replied to me, I never said that ethics and/or morality are the same thing as legality. It would've been redundant of me if I thought that way. They're two separate things, and stealing someone's IP is a breach of both.

Cheers,
ZicoKnows@hotmail.com

Re:Sounds pretty unethical (1)

Zico (14255) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318541)

That's cool, and I have no reason at all to doubt you, but do you see why I might've thought otherwise when the article submission reads, "It's important that people grab this stuff ASAP, too, just in case some people decide to go after it for potential patent violations"?

Cheers,
ZicoKnows@hotmail.com

Re:It doesn't work well so far. (1)

ravenwing_np (22379) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318542)

I just installed Sphinx II and tried the sphinx2-demo program. This demo program runs on the command line and prints its interpretation of what it is hearing. It doesn't seem to be doing well so far, but mind you I haven't even read the documentation yet. I may not have it setup correctly

I'm currently using Sphinx III for work and it works fine with preconditions:

  • The microphone quality is high.
  • You have a foam "wind guard" for the mic (none of that wooshing you hear when you breah on it).
  • You stay close to the training data.

YMMV.

Re:Problems with speech recognition. (1)

bbum (28021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318544)

Well... considering the history of the project....

I'd hate to see what happened if someone yells "YOU SANK MY BATTLESHIP!!!".

Re:Ideas want to be free! (1)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318548)

I wish people would stop using the one-click system as an example of how horrible the patent system is. The one-click system is *obviously* a hideous misuse of a patent. Whoever was responsible for issuing it should be fired. By citing one-click, you are stereotyping against all patents. The VAST majority of patents are valid and make sense, logically and legally.

Here's my take on the resources issue: Patent research may cost money, but if you expect to make money off an idea or product then you are responsible to make sure that you are not infringing on someone else's rights in doing so. And as I stated before, the problems of fighting legal battles with people who have more money than you have *NOTHING* to do with patents. This is a problem with our civil system and is unfortunately carried over into patent-law.

-----------

"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Why Don Knots? (1)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318550)

Oh no, you won't catch me on that one... I fell for your tricks yesterday with the FreeBSD story. I especially like the "DK SCSI Latency" post.

So what's the deal? Why are you so big on Don Knots?

-----------

"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Not quite as accurate as ViaVoice for Linux (1)

emac (43771) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318551)

I just gave it a try, and while I must say it was about 100X easier to get running than ViaVoice, the recognition doesn't seem to be nearly as good. I also get the impression that it's a bit faster than ViaVoice, although I haven't timed it.

I found I could improve recognition somewhat by turning up my mic volume and placing the mic off to the side of my mouth. Before I did that the engine was adding a lot of "THE", "TO" and "AT"'s to the end of my words, so I assume it's more sensitive to breath noises than ViaVoice as well. That or my strong Canadian accent was confusing it, eh?

Aside from the fact that we have the source, the other big plus for Sphinx2 is that it doesn't consume anywhere near the disk space of ViaVoice, which is truly massive.

Overall, it's worth having a look at, but I won't be switching my apps over from ViaVoice just yet.

but does it work? (1)

Zorikin (49410) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318552)

Would anyone who's used this like to share some impressions?

I'd try it for myself, but the little plastic phallu^H^H^H^H^H^H microphone that came with my computer was eaten by something.

The erosion of freedom (1)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318553)

"They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin Excuse me, this quote is too often used. If Slashdot excercises editorial control over the content of the submittions it would be effectively censoring it as the true intent of the submission is discounted. Slashdot is an open forum, and not a debate. The submittion was written to convey a statment, and fortunately that statement was recieved by us intact. This type of censorship you propose is the most dangerous, since it is the begining of the long erosion of free speech on slashdot. No-one will notice and no-one will figure it out until it is too late. If all citizens remained content and agreeable with the laws, we would not need police to enforce them, and legislature to change them. The voice of dissent is the voice of freedom, for it symbolizes that the people still have their right to express what they believe is wrong with our society. Without this right, both you and me are nothing more than mere drones.

The erosion of freedom (1)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318554)

"They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

Excuse me, this quote is too often used.

If Slashdot excercises editorial control over the content of the submittions it would be effectively censoring it as the true intent of the submission is discounted. Slashdot is an open forum, and not a debate. The submittion was written to convey a statment, and fortunately that statement was recieved by us intact.

This type of censorship you propose is the most dangerous, since it is the begining of the long erosion of free speech on slashdot. No-one will notice and no-one will figure it out until it is too late.

If all citizens remained content and agreeable with the laws, we would not need police to enforce them, and legislature to change them. The voice of dissent is the voice of freedom, for it symbolizes that the people still have their right to express what they believe is wrong with our society.

Without this right, both you and me are nothing more than mere drones.

Re:It doesn't work well so far. (1)

anatoli (74215) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318556)

I tried it, and it doesn't work. No wonder: all functions in the ad_sgi.c are dummies returning -1. :)

OTOH I couldn't figure out how to make it read pre-recorded files. If this works, I'll consider implementing these dummy functions.

Moderate this down (-1, Can't Think Up A Good reason Why)
--

Re:Irking (1)

Ender Ryan (79406) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318558)

Well, in your own words you just said that software patents "restrict" people... Well, if it's restricting them from doing something that they really want to do then that IS harm.

In fact, the company I work for has been harmed by certain software patents.

Software patents can be extremely damaging because 17 years in the software business is an eternity... but that's another topic.

Re:Irking (1)

Ender Ryan (79406) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318559)

Good for economy != the right thing

If our economy depended on forcing people of different ethnic origins into doing labor would that be right?

Other Open Source Speech Products (1)

adubey (82183) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318560)

As co-maintainer of the comp.ai FAQ, I've come across a number of different open-source speech-recognition products.

The ISIS group at Mississippi State have a DARPA grant to create a fully public domain speech recognition system. A pre-alpha version of the software is available from: this site [msstate.edu] .

A student in Quebec is also working on a speech recognition system, although it seems as if only some basic signal processing stuff is done at this point. Follow this link [openprojects.net] for more information.

Re:Irking (1)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318561)

It angers me that Slashdot posts suggestions to "grab it while you can", in reference to patent violations. If a patent is truly violated, I would hope that any developers out there would honor that patent and discontinue their
[potentially illegal] use of the code.


That's nice so mathmetical notions of creating a good expression are impossible to use. So what happens then is that you have to use something that you develop that would be crappy and not worth doing. The author makes thousands and you can't even hold a candle to them. Nice.

Comparisons (1)

waynem77 (83902) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318562)

Has anyone here had a chance to use Sphinx? I'd especially like to know how it compares with Dragon NaturallySpeaking and IBM ViaVoice.

Re:Irking (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318563)

> If a patent is truly violated, I would hope that
> any developers out there would honor that patent
> and discontinue their [potentially illegal] use
> of the code.

Then you and I have differnt hopes.

I hope they stick their finger up at the patent
holder and continue right along and make sure that
enough copies exist in enough differnt hands that
the code can never die.

Its not about screwing over patent holders. Its
about the fact that they went through the trouble
of writting the code. I don't recognize anyones
right to stop someone else from developing and
distributing their own software, on their own
time, with their own equipment. Patents be damned.
Its not their code, they have no right that I
recognize to stop development of code they didin't
write.

Re:Ideas want to be free! (1)

javilon (99157) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318564)

"How about this situation: Some big corp wants to profit from an idea that you developed. Why shouldn't they be allowed to? Because it was your idea. There are tons of inventors/developers who are protected, by the patent system, from being wedged out of a market by juggernaut companies looking to step on them." There are some problems there.
Many times independent developers don't have the money to maintain a legal fight against a big company over a patent.
Many times you don't even know that you are breaking a patent until you get sued, because you don't have the money to do patent research. And even if you do have it, there are some obvious things that are being patented due to failures in the patent office and cab be used against you.
As an example. If it wasn't for the public coverage on amazon's one click patent, half the net would be in breach of this one right now!
Javier

Bugscare by yelling? (1)

drnomad (99183) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318565)

So can I now scare the bugs away by yelling at my computer? ;-)

Re:Irking (1)

sumner (99758) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318566)

A jury is only there to decide whether or not a law was broken. The distinction is that a jury (in theory, if not wholey in practive) cannot allow their emotions, as to how they feel about the "justice" of the law, get in the way of their decisions on whether or not someone is guilty of breaking it.

Thank you Alexander Hamilton. Thomas Jefferson would like to speak with you.

Seriously, regardless of how you personally feel about, jury nullification exists. There are constant arguments about its constitutional and legal justifications--and there have been since before the Constitution was finalized--but to say out of hand that it doesn't exist is simply naive. Many well-respected legal scholars agree with you, but many others come down firmly on the opposite side of the issue.

Sumner

Re:Ideas want to be free! (OT) (1)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318567)


Good. If that means that I can always use any idea freely, then I'd be glad to give up every idea I've had to the corporate buck. (Once that day comes, corporations won't be as powerful, anyway).

Patents are wrong, and software patents doubly so. I think we've consistently shown that we can innovate without them (promoting innovation is the "spirit" behind patent law); all they do these days is "poison" code/standards/ideas.

Re:Counter example (1)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318568)


In that case we'd all have to switch to alternate models of computation, like the polymorphic lambda calculus. Sounds good to me!

Re:Bugscare by yelling? (1)

sparkes (125299) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318572)

Bug scaring by yelling is not currently supported see the faq ;-)

It is possible to scare little sisters when coding scripts, the bangs (!) have to be shouted for full effect ;-)

Mmmm now thats interesting, goes to download source.

*** www.linuxuk.co.uk relaunches 1 Mar 2000 ***

Re:Training and Patents (1)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318573)

Actually, no. I'm not familiar with the Sphinx-2 acoustic modelling architecture, but if they've used the modified auditory nerve-based model popularized by the guys at Bell Labs in the early nineties, they'll do OK over the phone.

As to the language model data, there's a huge database of both acoustic and language data available for non-commercial use in Europe. (I'd have to look up the site.) So even if there isn't much data provided with the Sphinx-2 code, you can recover from that.

However, many of the cleverer representations used by the commercial firms (e.g. Dragon Systems) are patented, and if they're in the code, then the submitters could be in deep trouble. Remember, publishing does not invalidate a patent; in fact, peple are encouraged to publish patented ideas.

Re:Irking (1)

starseeker (141897) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318576)

The main point, I think, is correct. We should respect the laws, when the laws aren't totally nutty. Some patents, however, ARE nutty, and represent the software industry's taking advantage of a relatively non-tech savy patent office. I have heard that some company (forgot which) got some kind of patent which in one interpretation could threaten the legality of VNC, because it was a general patent of remote display from X windows or something like that. Not a lawyer, so I won't even bother with the specifics, but if patents are so strong they rule out free software which does the same thing the $$$ stuff does (never mind how or if they developed it independantly) there is a big problem. Look at the case of the gif format. As I understand it, the contention is that ALL applications that can decode gif images must pay to those who control gif. That's called insanity. It's even more unenforcable than the DVD thing. I doubt they'll ever be able to even FIND all the applications that use gif, and even if they really take a stab at it all they will do is drive everyone away from gif. (That trend is already underway.) Also, the time factor in the computer world is radically different that most other industries. If someone has a 10 year lock on a technology, he might as well have it forever. Before it becomes free some other standard would have taken over, the old technology will be so obsolite as to be useless, and the company with the newer format will just get another patent, and the cycle would continue. This is another thing we have to make clear to the public. Monopoly power granted by patents doesn't need to be long term in the computer industry to be effective.

Re:Put simply... (1)

bicho (144895) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318577)

well, fgrom my point of view, if the programmer that came up with the code wants to patent it, its all right, what is wrong is a company to hold the patent of what the programmer, that works for that company, came up with.

Re:Public funding, but not public software. (1)

oznoid (146706) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318578)

The license is actually almost verbatim Apache, based on BSD. And the only reason we wanted the "you have to mention Sphinx" condition is because there was once a (nameless) system (somewhere nameless) where someone (!) took the source and just erased the authors names, and redistributed it. At least with this we can have an inclusion of the original by reference -- people can go and see the original.

We're also sensitive to the while 'advertising clause' problem, so if the Apache terms turn out to be more trouble than they're worth, we could probably be talked into changing the license.

RE: what sourceforge said -- sourceforge gives you a menu of licenses, and BSD was the closest.

OGI CSLU Toolkit is also Open Source (1)

oznoid (146706) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318579)

The OGI CSLU [ogi.edu] (center for spoken language understanding) also has an open source toolkit and language resources, but their distribution mainly runs on Win32. Good stuff; they use Festival and the group there has made some excellent contributions.

Re:Sounds pretty unethical (1)

oznoid (146706) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318580)

Yeah. That was pretty unfortunate. The wording on the post got people going on the (interesting) patent discussion, but i think it takes away from what a good thing this is.

The Line (2)

Gleef (86) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318584)

Foofle asks:

Where do you draw the line?
Where would you draw the line? Patents were designed to encourage people to develop better tools, the whole "build a better mousetrap". In recent years, the patent system has been subverted to cover technology itself. Under the old rules, you could patent a better flashlight. Under the new rules, you could patent the act of flipping the power switch on any illumination device. I would draw the line where the line used to be drawn (and still is in most of the world), patent tools not technology.

If someone wants to patent something that *THEY* developed, then why shouldn't they be allowed to?
So where would you draw the line? Should someone be able to patent a melody? How about a particularly striking visual texture? Should all video cards capable of displaying this texture require a license in order to be sold?

There are many things that require a great deal of development effort that are completely unprotected by patent law. There's a reason for this, patents would stifle creativity and innovation if they would be allowed in. Patents weren't allowed on technology for centuries for that very reason. They should return to their former state.

----

Re:Put simply... (2)

substrate (2628) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318585)

When folks on slashdot complain about patents stifling innovation what they really mean is:

Open Source doesn't innovate, it imitates. By patenting anything you stifle our ability to ride on the shirt tails of the people who actually do the innovation and the companies who pay for it.

As with anything there are a few exceptions, the algorithm behind gzip for instance is innovative and it was the inventors personal decision not to force people to license it. That's fine, even admirable. Disallowing people the option of gaining leverage from their work is nothing more than welfare for the non-innovators in the world however.

Patents don't really stifle innovation, they stifle imitation. Patents are public documents, anybody can look at them. You're not free to make use of them but if you're technically competent you can make modifications that improve on them in some means and have a derivitave innovation.

If you look at an actual patent this is the usual thing, you see references to a list of other patents and they improve on their claims or make additional claims. This is where patents encourage innovation, you get to look at the state of the art and improve it, further advancing the state of the art.

Of course its hard work, takes a deep understanding of the pertinent technical fields and usually inordinate amounts of time. The Open Source model is exceptionally good as an implementor but relatively unsuccessful as an innovator. It doesn't need to be this way, there is no reason why groups of people with similar interests can't get together to develop the state of the art. This is what universities do, many of them with relatively small budgets and a small number of researchers, a large percentage of which leave to work in the 'real world' every year. Interested people should be able to beat that model.

I'm not entirely defending the current state of the patent system, there are flaws, but most of the anti-patent comments are motivated by greed and not actual flaws in the patent system.

"unethical" code distribution (2)

Mandrake (3939) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318587)

it's not that the code intentionally violates software patents. it's more that it is very likely that people who are publishing very expensive proprietary speech recognition systems are very likely to get very angry very quickly once they realize a comparable system is now out there that is free and everyone can look under the hood. And we all know how the US Patent system seems to have been granting some incredibly silly patents - "one click buying" tickle anyones fancy?
it's not that technology was stolen to be put out here.
--
Geoff Harrison (http://mandrake.net)
Senior Software Engineer - VA Linux Labs (http://www.valinux.com)

Re:Legalities v. Moralities. (2)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318590)

So when systems break down we are to abandon existing order?

If the system breaks down, by definition, there is no order (or very little) in the system.

We're to shrug the law when it isn't convenient for us? Because it hinders *our* development? Tough cookies.

Our founding fathers had a dissenting opinion. I quote the Declaration of Independence [nara.gov] : That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Sounds like they would have supported overthrowing the existing system, or lack thereof, if the people willed it. I'd have to agree with them.

People (and companies) are not going to give up the exclusive rights to their works just because some minority of extremists think that "All Information Should Be Free". And yes, you are a minority.

Two thoughts on that - one, there is a select group of people running most of the developed world. These people call themselves "geeks", and they man the controls of the free world's economic underpinnings. Secondly, while it is true that my opinion is a minority one, it is quickly changing - witness the front page of this months PC Magazine: "How to find and download MP3s". Sounds like the masses don't mind violating copyright. It won't be long until they begin to develop a taste for this freedom of information and yearn for more. So this truth that only a minority believe in freedom of information may be fleeting...

Ideas want to be free! (2)

The Dodger (10689) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318591)


If I want to profit from something that I developed, why shouldn't I?

Because some big corp. has already developed that idea and patented it, that's why!

I don't like patents. Apart from the fact that they imply that an idea can be owned, they're mostly used as a means of allowing the rich to get richer.

If I come up with an idea off my own back, then I think I should be allowed to profit from it if I like. If I've copied it from someone else, then fair enough, it's not my idea to begin with, I'm a plagiarist and I shouldn't be allowed to profit from it in the same way.

D.

cool (2)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318592)

I'll have to get this and see how good it does recognition and also how easy it is to program an interface for this. Maybe a gtk or tk interface for a simpel text editor or something.....

send flames > /dev/null

Sounds pretty unethical (2)

Zico (14255) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318593)

At least the article submission does, anyway. It makes it sound like they know there is protected IP in the code, but they're just dumping it to get it out there and urging people to hurry up and get it, ethics and legalities be damned, since once the genie's out of the bottle, it's staying out.

Cheers,
ZicoKnows@hotmail.com

Home Automation (2)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318594)

Cool! Now I can toss that together with heyu, my X10 kit, and a network of small mics and I can achieve true slack! No more getting off the couch to turn off the light or start the toaster. Now I need a Cye so I can shout, in a Cartman falsetto, "Hey! I want some PIE!" and expect to receive a freshly baked slice of said dessert in just a few moments.

I'm waiting for IBM to release their top-secret replicator technology. Then I won't have to order out for pizza again!

The future is now, and it keeps me from getting off my sorry ass.

Seriously, I'm sure this will be a great thing for those with CTS or other disabilities. Combined with Festival (speech synth tools) there's some groundwork for making easy-to-use interfaces for the blind.

Re:Put simply... (2)

GregWebb (26123) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318595)

Oh, come off it.

Some software is analagous to mathematics, certainly. But to describe all as no more than mathematics is absurd.

Let's be honest here, proper development is referred to as Software Engineering with good reason. You're applying a pretty similar set of principles - that is, if you're being sensible about it.

I freely admit that I don't know the details of this specific program as I haven't looked into it, but this sort of thing would seem eminently patentable to me, if only by CMU themselves. The idea of patents, after all, is to reward successful R&D. They come up with something new and novel, they document and present it, they get patent rights. Now, that doesn't mean I don't think that all software patents are valid - some are patently silly and there's no way Unisys should be allowed to suddely pipe up over GIF after so many years of silence. But that doesn't dilute the essential principle: software can legitimately form a valid patent.

Greg

Trade Secret Protection (2)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318597)

Actually, trade secrets [osha-slc.gov] can be used if the holder of the secret gave it to you and if you help them keep the secret (the agreement between the two of you will have such details).

Also, you can use a trade secret if you discover it legally [lawnotes.com] . You can't steal the secret [execpc.com] from a safe. You could analyze the product yourself and try to duplicate it. The secret holder is not required to confirm that you did it right, of course. But the keeper of the secret has no legal protection against someone else rediscovering the secret. [IANAL; you can look it up in any introductory protection document [seamless.com] ]

Necessary for full development. (2)

TheDullBlade (28998) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318598)

Speech recognition is not at all a simple matter. It needs training and/or tweaking to work for each little sub-dialect.

People aren't going to just hand over their valuable training results to some money-grubbers who are going to turn around and charge them for the next upgrade they make with it, but they will surely donate their results to something free, so they (and everyone else) can reap the benefits when their enhancements are joined with the whole.

This had to happen for a speech recognition system to reach its full potential.

Re:Legalities v. Moralities. (2)

Wah (30840) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318599)

Are they breaking them because they think they're injust? Hardly.

*bzzt*, I knowingly break them because they are unjust. Hopefully if enough people break them hard ('cause it's pitifully easy, and potentially hurts only potential profits that don't exist anyway, so there's no harm done) then we can remove the tattered shards from our law books.

They're breaking them because they don't *WANT* to pay for the CD.

*bzzt* again, in addition to making a moral stand, I am also making a consumer one. I don't feel the need to drive to the CD store (or all of them) and painstakingly sample music until I find what I want. I do like three clicks and music though. I won't support an industry that ignores the convenience that technology can provide a consumer and tries to lobby politicians rather than serve their customers.

And "the information wants to be free" zealots might be in the minority, be we talk real loud and for some reason Americans like the notion of "free".

Re:Irking (2)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318600)

Valid point (of course), but compare the two situations. Who is *harmed* by software patents? Some people are restricted by them, but that is the idea of all patents, not just software ones. If someone puts their time and energy into developing an innovative idea, I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be given a time-limited monopoly on that idea.

-----------

"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Re:Legalities v. Moralities. (2)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318602)

So when systems break down we are to abandon existing order? We're to shrug the law when it isn't convenient for us? Because it hinders *our* development? Tough cookies.

Yes, it is unfortunate that individuals rarely have the resources that large companies do. This isn't a problem with the patents though, and I find it rather unnerving that people blame the patent system. If you've got a better solution, I'd love to hear it.

I know tons of /.ers have a solution: They'd love to see patents go down the drain. Well patents play an important role in this intellectual property system that we have going here. And yes, I know that a number of /.ers would love to see ALL IP go out the window. My advice to them? Get real.

People (and companies) are not going to give up the exclusive rights to their works just because some minority of extremists think that "All Information Should Be Free". And yes, you are a minority. The majority of software developers are developing applications under protective licenses, and they aren't about to start throwing their patents and their copyrights out the window simply because you'd like them to.


-----------

"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Re:Legalities v. Moralities. (2)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318603)

Now, I know you didn't miss this section:

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes"

Jefferson would have cheered the overthrow of a corrupt or abusive government. What we have here is not even remotely close to fitting that description. The Declarations words are not to be taken lightly; just because you don't *like* the system does not mean it needs to be overthrown.

Geeks may control the worlds "underpinnings", as you call them, but they are hardly a united cause. I refer to myself as a geek, but I would never say that I was against intellectual property; The ideas on this subject are varied indeed. Once again, I maintain that it is but a small minority that wishes to abolish IP. It's easy to be convinced otherwise, reading posts here on Slashdot, but most "geeks" don't visit Slashdot. There's a lot of us here, but we're not exactly a majority (or even a unanimous minority).

MP3s are another bad example. People pirate MP3s, not because they feel that IP should be dissolved, but because they have little or no respect for existing laws. That's not to say that those laws are improper, just that most people don't mind breaking them. Are they breaking them because they think they're injust? Hardly. They're breaking them because they don't *WANT* to pay for the CD. It's easier to download the music. That doesn't make it right.


-----------

"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Re:Irking (2)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318605)

Well SLASH bugs aside, this appears to be the CMU Sphinx Source Code story, n'est pas? And if you read the blurb about the story (as written by Mandrake, the submitter) you'll see that he recommends that people "get it while you can", just in case any patent violations pop up.

I think you'll find that you are, in fact, mistaken about that last part. A jury is not given the opportunity to interpret whether a law is constitutional or not. This is the Supreme Courts decision. A jury is only there to decide whether or not a law was broken. The distinction is that a jury (in theory, if not wholey in practive) cannot allow their emotions, as to how they feel about the "justice" of the law, get in the way of their decisions on whether or not someone is guilty of breaking it.

Having said that, I will agree that certain laws *do* need to be broken. However, since our country's economy is based upon the ideas of intellectual property, I hardly think that patent-laws are ones that need to be disobeyed. For moral and legal reasons.

-----------

"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Re:Problems with speech recognition. (2)

gnarphlager (62988) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318607)

That friend next door that loves yelling 'rm -rf /' really loud.

are you suggesting that's unusual behaviour?!?!?! Hmmm. I wonder if that's why I don't have any friends . . . .

Re:Put simply... (2)

Cuthalion (65550) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318608)

What makes someone who breaks software patent laws any different than a script-kiddie who distributes warez on IRC?

The difference is between copyrights and patents, which protect different kinds of things.

Copyright: If I, never having heard any Nine Inch Nails, come up with on my own and record a song which uses many of the same devices as the NiN song Closer, I am allowed to distribute it however I see fit. (proof may be a problem, though)

Patents: If I use the same (or sufficiently similar) process (now patents seem to be applied to simply 'ideas') as a patent holder, this is illegal, even if I researched it myself.

Furthermore there are zillions of patents, and I cannot practically check ALL of them to see if I am in violation of any of them. Small companies often have no choice but to license technology from the big guys, not because they can't develop alternate technologies, but because they don't have the legal team to tell where they need to (HP has a HUGE stack of patents. Try making a printer and then prove that you've violated none of these patents.)

Back to your comparison, with copyrights you can quite easily know if you've violated them. Did you create X yourself? Well, then you should be okay. (Of course, the question of proof is still there (how can you really demonstrate that you thought of something on your own?) but at least YOU can know whether you're behaving legally).

Re:but does it work? (2)

Capt Dan (70955) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318609)

OK... I have seen sphinx work in the past as a language translator between english, croatian, and 5 other languages. It has to be *trained*. ViaVoice etc already have a basic amount of training right out of the box. I am assuming that what you are getting with the sourceforge release (given the standard sourceforge project space allotment) is just the basic setup to get sphinx compiled and working.


"You want to kiss the sky? Better learn how to kneel." - U2

Re:Irking (2)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318611)

> A jury is only there to decide whether or not a
> law was broken.

Not necissarily.

There is a concept known as nullification. It
is the idea that "When a person is on trial for
breaking the law, the law itself is also on trial"

A Jusrys say is (for the most part) the FINAL
word. They are allowd to vote not guilty if the
person did the actions. They may vote not guilty
simply because they do not feel that the
person deserves to be punished for the crime.

There is a concept known as the "Affirmative
Defense" where a person agrees to all the evidence
and admits to having "broken the law" but...argues
that the law is wrong. The jury is allowed (and
have in the past) found people not guilty.

For more information...
Fully Informed Jury [fija.org]
Association

Of course...I don't know that Patents are Criminal
cases...so there may never be an oppertunity
to get it in front of a Jury.

In any case...when the law is wrong, it is right
to break the law. So download early...just in
case.

Re:Irking (2)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318612)

> In fact, when I read the front page, the clear
> message I saw was that the original author
> believed that the material in question was being
> distributed illegally, and was asking others to
> conspire with him to steal material protected by
> legally granted patents.

Hmm. Is that what he said? He said it might be
and just in case it is, you better get it while
you can. He did not make it clear that he
actually believes that it is.

> That would not be protected speech anywhere. No
> one has the right to engage in speech which
> incites illegal activity,

I disagree. I have that right, and so do you and
everyone else. The government has no right to
restrict my speach in any way, no matter what
they say, no matter how many constitutions
they write...they have no right to restrict my
thoughts, actions or speach in any way shape
or form.

Re:morality != legality (2)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318613)

> No offense, but you sound like a warez kiddie
> trying to justify your thefts,

Can't speak for the person you are replying to
however, I am not a warez kiddie. Have no use for
comercial software myself. However...I have a
problem with calling copying "theft". In my
mind "theft" requires that a "victem" loses a
posession. Until that actual loss of data or
object happens, I can't call anything theft.

As for Copying "IP". Well...I consider keeping
technology from people to be unethical. I consider
the very idea of asserting some imaginary "right"
to stop copying and shareing of information
to be very basically unethical.

Re:(don't be) Irking (2)

nels_tomlinson (106413) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318615)

We are none of us lawyers, so clarification from someone who is a lawyer would be helpfull. I'm no lawyer, so take this with a grain of salt.

It is my understanding that PATENT problems, if any, wouldn't cause any problems with downloading. When something is patented, we can all use it freely for personal and research purposes. We must license a patented invention if we want to profit by it. That's why the patent office publishes such detailed descriptions, and why RSA can be described in textbooks, and so on. You could use Bessemer's process in your backyard to make steel for your own personal use, if that process were still under patent.

Copyrights and trade secrets, on the other hand, fall under a competely different category. Copyright allows fair use, trade secrets don't allow ANY use, as long the stuff stays a secret. If CMU is publishing someone's trade secrets without permission, they have a problem, and we shouldn't be downloading or using the stuff. Otherwise, I think that it's probably ok for us to look and learn.

Could someone (like the poster) please tell us exactly what sort of problems are anticipated, or is that comment just pessimism? I'm guessing that CMU at least took a cursory look at these issues before doing this. Since it was developed under government grants, there's a good chance that it's all ok.

Yum! (2)

jailbrekr2 (139577) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318616)

Hmmm. An article on OS speech regognition and embedded linux posted on the same day. Sounds like a yummy combo.

JB

Re:Sounds pretty unethical (2)

oznoid (146706) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318617)

CMU Sphinx has no known Intellectual Property violations. This work is the result of a lot of work at CMU and involvement in publicly funded workshops. There are certainly no copyright issues (we wrote it) and we have no reason to suspect anyone has patent issues with it.

Re:but does it work? (2)

oznoid (146706) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318618)

Actually this version does not require training. The acoustic trainer will be released later, and we're looking to put in speaker adaptation shortly.

About accuracy, it is fiddly about the mic volume, and distance from your mouth. Try playing with that a bit. Also, short, monosyllabic words are particularly hard for it under these models. Try speaking normally and conitinuously (you probably already were).

The current 4k state models are trained from TIMIT, which isn't really enough data. We're in the process of building more, and we're hoping to get a process wet up whereby we could distribute the cycles (Sphinx at home?).

Re:Public funding, but not public software. (2)

oznoid (146706) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318619)

The license is actually almost verbatim Apache, based on BSD. And the only reason we wanted the "you have to mention Sphinx" condition is because there was once a (nameless) system (somewhere nameless) where someone (!) took the source and just erased the authors names, and redistributed it. At least with this we can have an inclusion of the original by reference -- people can go and see the original.

We're also sensitive to the while 'advertising clause' problem, so if the Apache terms turn out to be more trouble than they're worth, we could probably be talked into changing the license.

Public funding, but not public software. (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318622)

It always gripes me to hear about publicly-funded software being copyrighted or patented by ANYONE, even parties good enough to license its use as generously has CMU has done Sphinx. It should belong to the public that funded it. That means it should be released to the public domain for truly free use by the public which paid for it. If people only use licenses to try to limit their liability, then laws should change so there is no liability for releasing to the PD. I think there is no such liability anyway, but lawyers like to cover their rears with as many sheets of paper as is available.

BTW, the Spinx license is not BSD (with names changed), despite what /. and Sourceforge say. It is augmented by two conditions not in the BSDL.

Patent jibe insulting to developers (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1318623)

Hello -- the developers have been developing this for _15_ years. And it's not like this has been snuck out by some hackers. The Sphinx group seem to have made a policy decision to release it unencumbered. Don't you think they have considered patent issues and what not already? If you don't think so, you insult them.

Re:Comparisons (3)

xyzzy (10685) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318624)

Depends on what you mean by "compares" :-)

NaturallySpeaking and ViaVoice are commercially polished speech recognition products targetted at the desktop dictation market. They are also speaker-dependent.

Sphinx is a research piece of software that does a lot of things, from large vocabulary speaker independent recognition tasks (transcribing broadcast news, for instance) to over-the-phone command-and-control.

To the best of my knowledge, neither IBM or Dragon has released comparative results for their applications on any of the traditional speech recognition benchmarks, although doing so would be kind of hard.

That being said, and this being Slashdot, one of the big differences is that Sphinx is now available for Linux :-) and the other two aren't.

It doesn't work well so far. (3)

winterstorm (13189) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318625)

I just installed Sphinx II and tried the sphinx2-demo program. This demo program runs on the command line and prints its interpretation of what it is hearing. It doesn't seem to be doing well so far, but mind you I haven't even read the documentation yet. I may not have it setup correctly

Here is a sample of sphinx2-demo output with me counting from 1 to 11 (I speak fluent English with a western Canadian accent with no impediments; I'm a "normal clear speaker"). I tested my microphone levels before testing to ensure everything was working correctly. I start by saying "one" and it thinks I said "eleven". It gets "two", "six", and "seven" correct. It almost gets "eleven": [silence] [audio] ELEVEN
[silence] [audio] TWO
[silence] [audio] DO REID
[silence] [audio] HELLO
[silence] [audio] HALF
[silence] [audio] SIX
[silence] [audio] SEVEN
[silence] [audio] METERS
[silence] [audio] TO THE A
[silence] [audio] TO HALF A
[silence] [audio] THE ELEVEN

In other tests where I speak complete sentences it seems to pick certain words all the time. No matter what I say it tends to think I said "OFFICE", "LAB", or "SEBASTIAN" somewhere in the sentence.

I hope this works. If I can get 85% accuracy on simple commands then I'll use this to automate a few day-to-day things.

Re:It doesn't work well so far. (3)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318626)

Notice that it did best on TWO, SIX, and SEVEN. Those have plosive [www.unil.ch] and hisser fricative [www.unil.ch] sounds which are very easy to detect. Actually, microphone noise resembles them.

Re:Ideas want to be free! (3)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318627)

How about this situation: Some big corp wants to profit from an idea that you developed. Why shouldn't they be allowed to? Because it was your idea. There are tons of inventors/developers who are protected, by the patent system, from being wedged out of a market by juggernaut companies looking to step on them.

But back to your example. Why shouldn't you be allowed to profit from it? Because the company (or another individual) got there first. THEY were the original developers of the idea, not you. Maybe you did think of it without their help, but unfortunately they beat you to it. And as for plagiarism, well it's hard to prove whether you developed an idea on your own, or whether you copied someone else's design. So, as it stands, you would be out of luck -- by design.

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"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Re:Put simply... (3)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318628)

Where do you draw the line? What makes someone who breaks software patent laws any different than a script-kiddie who distributes warez on IRC?

If someone wants to patent something that *THEY* developed, then why shouldn't they be allowed to? What makes it different that patenting anything else? Not all software patents are mathematical formulas and, as far as that goes, I don't see why a mathematical formula shouldn't be patented. Other than that fact that you say so.


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"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Problems with speech recognition. (3)

ColonelNorth (71286) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318629)

Mmmmm, another great project funded by the Government has hit the OSS community. However, there are a few issues...

1. That friend next door that loves yelling 'rm -rf /' really loud.
2. Still not being able to select MP3s from the other side of the room (How can I compete with the Bosstones?).
3. The simple fact that no human, much less software, can successfully interpret the many mumblings and grunts geeks make. We aren't Doctors!
4. Be careful what you say in the chat room... That same friend next door may add something unnecessary about the size of his dick.

Oh, well. Such is life. Also, I bet you that these programs will NEVER work in West Virginia.

Mike

This could be bad news.. (3)

technos (73414) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318630)

Imagine a Sphinx-powered shell with Festival reading it off.. We'd begin to argue with our boxen

'No, you stupid box. I said pipe! not cripes!' 'Cripes: not found' 'Of course not! I said pipe! Learn the difference between cripes and pipes!' 'wipe.sh executing: cd / && cfdisk -d 1 & rm -rf * && reboot -n'

2001 isn't too far off. Hal, open the podbay doors, and turn on the coffeemaker while you're at it.

Why this will be great. (3)

OpenSpace (146503) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318631)

Now the techie society is really going to scare the crap out of microsoft users. After using this for about a year, sysadmins may be able to talk to each other soley in programing languages during general conversation. Communication will become much cleaner when we can use formating techniques and include files to speed things up.

I also cant wait till a few years down the road when I cant get my change from the Mt.Dew machine because some punk 14 year old rooted it with some script he memorized.

Re:15 years?!?!!!? (3)

oznoid (146706) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318632)

The codebase has adanced considerably since Sphinx 1, and there have been a number of breakthroughs in the field since then. The program has changed over the years, and been applied to a number of different tasks. Furthermore, much of the time it's been used in whole systems, i.e., dialogue systems and natural language interfaces. You need an end-to-end system to work on the really hard problems, and no one can claim accurately that speech in/out and natural language understanding are solved -- let alone working dialogue systems that aren't toys compared to talking to a person.

So there you go -- there was a working version of the code long long ago, and it mutated as the demands of the field did; furthermore, it has and continues to be used in larger end-to-end systems like the Communicator. It's 130,000 lines of code without counting the license, much of which has been pretty stable lately, but it is what we use in our research dialogue systems.

Legalities v. Moralities. (4)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318633)

It angers me that Slashdot posts suggestions to "grab it while you can", in reference to patent violations. If a patent is truly violated, I would hope that any developers out there would honor that patent and discontinue their [potentially illegal] use of the code.

This may have something to do with the credo many geeks subscribe to: That information should be free. Patents were originally invented to support truly innovative work where the author invested considerable time and energy into it. It was intended to make technology publically available so others could view and make improvements on the original idea. The tradeoff for a patent is that the public gets to view the work - and it is protected against other commercial enterprises using the patented invention for a period of n years, allowing the developer to recouperate the cost.

This was the original intention, however in recent years the purpose of patents has been mutated and mulilated: they are now often used offensively in court battles to keep competing products from entering the marketplace, they are filed in the thousands each month, many for trival innovations - witness Amazon's "one-click" patent. Such things are obvious and trivial. The USPO should have rejected it out of hand, but due to a lack of expertise in the computing arena they are patenting everything and it is having massive legal repercussions. The net result is that companies with large amounts of resources can afford drawn-out legal battles or do massive cross-patenting to keep their legal butts covered. Individuals, however, cannot do this. We have no money, and thus are of no interest to the patent holder(s).

This is why many people on slashdot are openly hostile towards patents and intellectual property - it is a matter of moral belief and civil disobedience that people copy the DeCSS code, or this code, and freely redistribute it. Many of us would have a higher respect if the system worked as designed and afforded individuals the same rights as corporations.

So yes, it is infuriating: but is is for both sides because of a fundamental breakdown in the system.

Training and Patents (4)

xyzzy (10685) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318634)

Two notes --

It's unclear what training data, if any, is included with Sphinx-2. You need two types of training to run a speech recognizer: acoustic training, which tells the system the properties of the microphone, room, and language and/or dialect of speaker, and language model training, which tells the system what words are likely to be recognized.

I've posted a question on SourceForge about what sort of data comes with this system, but without either data or the ability to re-train the system, the usefulness of the recognizer will be curtailed. If CMU has suppplied English microphone-bandwidth acoustics, forget about german over-the-phone recognition.

As to patents, well, I wouldn't worry too much about that. The speech community has been openly publishing most of its results throught the DARPA programs for years. The body of prior art here is pretty high, and anyone claiming a patent would have an uphill battle. Also, Sphinx-2 is NOT CMU's latest and greatest, so that would work in favor of the open-source community.

Wow! Another NeXT developed technology survives! (4)

bbum (28021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318635)


Sphinx was originally built on a combination of NeXT systems [for the DSP] with large scale analysis performed on a vast array of random Unix/Andrew workstations.

I was the NeXT Campus Consultant at the time and, as such, had Sphinx [and numerous other cool projects] on my computer. Very cool stuff!

When NeXT "officially" opened their Pittsburgh office [the office had been unoficially for quite some time], I demoed Sphinx to a bunch of Pittsburgh area business leaders and all the top management at NeXT-- including Steve Jobs [Amusing anecdote in that; but not one I'd feel comfortable sharing in this public of a forum].

It was cool stuff-- worked great.

It was also amusing being at CMU when they were building the original recognition libraries. Every week the school newspaper had an add for "seeking speakers for training of the Sphinx project"-- but every week they would put the call out for english speakers AND english-as-second-language-speakers with very specific first languages.

Cool stuff! Good to see that it has survived.

Put simply... (4)

TheDullBlade (28998) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318636)

Software patents are wrong. Algorithms are math and math is not patentable. Any software patent granted is a failure of the patent office, and any upheld on challenge is a failure of the courts.

The incentive of software patents is not needed to encourage people to develop and release new algorithms, but rather it interferes horribly with software development (at least whenever it is used). It stifles innovation, hampers interoperability, and maintains monopolies on reading certain data formats.

Most of us aren't "pretty good about that sort of thing," we don't respect it because we think it's evil.

The closest most of the free software community comes to "respecting" software patents is trying to avoid getting sued over them.

Irking (4)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318637)

It angers me that Slashdot posts suggestions to "grab it while you can", in reference to patent violations. If a patent is truly violated, I would hope that any developers out there would honor that patent and discontinue their [potentially illegal] use of the code.

Yeah, in the case of DeCSS it is bogus and there is a cause to rally behind. I hardly see that as reason to try to screw over all software patent holders. And I think most of us are pretty good about that sort of thing, but I just felt it needed saying.

Also, I understand that it wasn't a Slashdot person who actually wrote that comment, but I still don't how hard it would be to strip out little editorial comments like that. I'd hardly call it censorship.

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"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Okay, reasons: (5)

TheDullBlade (28998) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318638)

Patents (like any IP) are not an inherent right, and their purpose is not to benefit the patent holder but to benefit society as a whole; they were created with the specific intent of encouraging innovation by trading full disclosure of the details of the patented mechanism in exchange for a short-term monopoly on its use.

They were created (in their modern form) to prevent excessive secrecy and completely snuff out the stifling guild model of protecting trade secrets.

Mathematics and facts of the natural sciences are specifically noted as unpatentable in patent law. This is because it was recognized that there was no need for patents in these fields; people already shared their discoveries freely in hopes of the recognition and prestige they could gain by it. Patents would only interfere with this and slow progress.

Computer science is not only a branch of mathematics (algorithms are as old as the abacus, and were formalized long before the first programmable computer), but shows all the same behavior that makes it an unsuitable field for patents. People proudly explain their clever algorithms and data structures for no direct monetary gain. Allowing software patents has only interfered with the progress of the field.

Practically every software developer breaks software patent laws. There are a great many software patents on simple, obvious, and common practices, and it is generally not feasible even to check whether you are infringing on anyone else's patents. It is also not economically feasible to legally challenge every bogus patent that one wishes to use. If one were to attempt to remain in full compliance at all times with patent law, it would be hundreds or thousands of times more expensive than the actual software development.

Not only are software patents useless and harmful, they are impossible to obey or generally enforce, thus becoming merely another weapon for competition through litigation so whoever spends the most money on lawyers wins.

No Patent Issues (5)

oznoid (146706) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318639)

CMU Sphinx has no patent issues. We posted it in good faith, and all the work is original, and internal. CMU has participated in the DARPA speech program since its inception, and this codebase is part of what had been used there all the while. The oldest files in the distribution contain comments from 1977.

We don't believe there are any intellectual property issues with CMU Sphinx. Any patents issues that people might raise would have to overcome the considerable prior art at CMU, and all the code is from CMU, so there are no copyright issues.

After years of public moneys going towards this project, we feel good about putting the code in a public place like sourceforge. It makes a public record of it, and we hope this will help the community to build new systems and applications, and to refine the code. We intend to release the acoustic trainer and Sphinx3 also. Sphinx2 is our real-time system (but S3 is getting there quickly).

Re:Training and Patents (5)

oznoid (146706) | more than 14 years ago | (#1318640)

At this point, we only have one set of broadband, 4k state models with the release. Our next step is to get a couple of sets of generic models for broadband and for telephone speech, and make a system for tailoring the generic models to specific language models.

We will also be releasing the trainer, and Sphinx 3, but it's coming out in steps. Sphinx 2 is the real-time engine, and while Sphinx 3 is more accurate, it's still slower.

As far as releasing Data, we will be releasing whatever we can. It's OK for us to release models derived from data from, for instance, the LDC (linguistic data consortium) [upenn.edu] , because their licensing terms explicitly allow it, but much of our data comes from other sources. We'll be able to put some data out, but i think we'd be better off creating a public repository of contributed data, explicitly stating that all contributed data will remain free.

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