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Here is an extract from a story carried by the International Herald Tribune on 14 August 2012;
Quaid’s speech calling for religious, ethnic tolerance missing from Radio Pakistan’s archives.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s landmark speech at the Constituent Assembly’s
first meeting on August 11, 1947 in Karachi has been missing for decades
and all recent efforts to retrieve it have so far been in vain.
These days, Radio Pakistan runs an Urdu translation recorded in
somebody else’s voice of the same speech. Where the original speech
disappeared, and whether this was deliberate, remains an unanswered
It may be no coincidence that the missing speech has these famous
words in it: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are
free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this
state of Pakistan …You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that
has nothing to do with the business of the state.”
It was also in this speech that the founder had said that the first
duty of a government was to maintain law and order, “so that the life,
property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by
Important words, and never more so than at this time. And almost certainly not lost – mislabelled, misfiled, disguised by inadequate metadata, maybe, but it is worth a small wager that the speech turns up one day – so very many things do. The world is full of attics and libraries from which lost symphonies, early works of poetry, the juvenilia of great writers reappear with monotonous regularity. This speech will be found.
But the story interested me because it provided a graphic reminder of the problem and potential of speech, and returned me to a long held conviction – that voice is the real future of search. However, I no longer believe that the route to this is through Google and the other search engines. though I am aware of Google’s downloadable voice search app, and I am sure that the pace set in this area will accelerate as Google get even further invested in the future of the smart phone. However, we need semantic technologies that can treat text as voice and vice versa for search purposes, and while we have evidence of many attributes in this pipeline, we seem to be a long way away from finding a universal solution, and one that resolves the legacy content issues as well.
I am coming to believe, however, in the explosive growth potential for voice in business, partly because of Siri and its ilk, partly because of the need to get more functionality into the phone than the keyboard will allow, but mostly because I can now see a group of very relevant business areas where being able to move seamlessly from voice to text, to be able to search both using either, unlocks productivity gains that cannot be attained in any other way. My conclusions on this were formed by following two companies quite closely. One was Aurix (www.aurix.com), a former UK Defense establishment company privatized within QinetiQ and now owned by Avaya. No prizes for guessing where their voice interests began, but their interests now lie far beyond security and intelligence. The other is BigHand (http://uk.bighand.com), bought earlier this year by my colleagues at Bridgepoint, where I do some media advisory work. It happens that both of these are UK technology companies, but I am sure that we could find equivalents for them in the USA or Israel.
Clearly a vital sector for voice search remains security. Searching voicemail alone when required is a major undertaking (not even the News of the World in its prime had the right technologies). Beyond this, media and broadcasting is surely a primary market. No one who drowned in the ocean of superlatives surrounding the London Olympics can doubt that heavyweight voice technologies of the sort that Aurix deploys will be as critical as the major investment put together by the BBC, partnering with MarkLogic, to put in the text-image-video handling platform that sat behind the BBC Sport website. And then we put together the fastest growing sector – monitoring and searching voice messages, recorded conversations and realtime calling in direct selling and customer service contexts. The productivity gains are as large as the range of uses is wide – checking compliance and script adherence, learning from common complaints, measuring call centre workloads, analysing trends in customer response etc etc.
And there are two marketplaces where voice records, the ability to attach them to text records, and to search both at the same time, has always been important, even when it wasn’t possible. One is the law practice market, and the other is the health market. Here there are solid traditions of voice recording, but real productivity gains to be made (for example, in legal eDiscovery) by using effective voice search. BigHand are market leaders in legal dictation and have the exciting prospect before them of what seemed a limited market a few years ago now opening out in an interesting way to embrace technology change which will then move into education (voice reports?), surveying, engineering and then some of the science research disciplines. As a law database publisher in 1982, I now have the delightful prospect of seeing another wave come ashore in the same market with very similar productivity, and compliance, advantages.
So here then is a brief sketch of a demand-led digital voice revolution. In 2020 we will ask our screen for research results, and define if we want them by ear or by eye – bearing in mind that some of the results will be transcripted voice turned into text, and others will be text turned into speech. Around then we shall find the missing speech in this news story – and admire again the wonderful sentiments of the speaker.