Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Computers Get All Weirded Out When They Hear More Than One Person Talking At A Time

"You are at a party, and Alex is telling a boring story. You are much more interested in the gossip that Sam is recounting to Pat, so you tune out Alex and focus on Sam’s words. Congratulations: you have just demonstrated the human ability to solve the 'cocktail party problem'—to pick out one thread of speech from the babble of two or more people. Computers so far lack that power."
So being a computer is kind of listening to Lou Reed's "Kicks" all the time. (Which wouldn't actually be so bad. I love the way the "cocktail party problem" enhances the great paranoid creepiness of that song.) Seems like Lou was maybe onto this when he chose the set design for his 1976 Rock n' Roll Heart tour.

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What about having three internal microphones, and then triangulating…somehow?

bassknives (#2,903)

The computers stay just long enough to help clean up though.

FWIW, from my experience and that of my friends and students, it's very hard to follow more than one conversation (or audio from TV, radio, etc.) in your second (or third, etc. )language. If I listen to Spanish, I can hear a conversation, or the TV, but not both. When I go home on vacation to NY, the first couple of days I get dizzy listening to all the talk and audio around me. Any psycholinguists out there have an answer?

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