Mary Meeker’s yearly Internet Trends Report can tell us plenty of what’s going on in the interwebs. Smartphone growth is slowing down, live TV is dying, internet usage is booming in India, and Netflix is all the hype. That is all to be expected, but there is one piece of information that really impressed us.

Apparently Google is now able to understand language with a 95% accuracy, rivaling human beings. Google’s jump from 80% in 2013 is credited to the search giant’s algorithms, which allow these services to learn as more users continue to utilize voice actions.

Either these statistics are flawed or I am a horrible speaker, but I swear about 30% of the time Google Home has no idea what the heck I’m saying. But hey, I am not here to refute Mary’s arguments. After all, she does have all the numbers. The truth is it is still impressive we can ask a robot to tell us about the weather, traffic or that joke I wake up to on a daily basis. And it can respond intelligently (at least most of the time).

See also:

Google Home review – the future of the home?

November 18, 2016

So let’s assume Google can understand us as well as the next door neighbor. Where do we go from now? Well, we can still tell the digital assistant is… a digital assistant. The next step is fooling humans into thinking they are speaking to another person. Author Ray Kurzweil is working with Google to make chatbots, and he claims artificial intelligence should be able to pass the Turing test by 2029. This means people wouldn’t be able to differentiate it from human speech. Crazy, right?

Do hit the comments if you agree with me. Do you think Google can really understand us with a 95% accuracy? I don’t think that’s the case, at least in my experience.

Edgar Cervantes
Edgar Cervantes has over 5 years of experience in tech journalism. Exploring the latest gadgets and constantly studying the industry are part of is daily drive. Regardless of what he is working on, you can be sure he is always trying his best to bring you the best content. He will be dead honest and will bend to nothing.
  • JimAlaska

    I’d feel good if I thought Google had it correct what I was saying 30% of the time. I have a deep, resonant, voice and I keep trying to talk Google hoping that if I talk to it enough it will learn, but it can get frustrating.

    Same text spoken to Google:
    Add feel good if I cut Google headed to correct what I was saying 30% of the time I have Addie present voice and I keep trying to talk to Google hoping that if I talk to it enough it will get it will learn but it can get frustrating.

    After looking at this, 30% may be pretty close. It’s a far cry from 95%, whatever it is. I have found that if I speak in a falsetto voice it does noticeably better.

  • Joseph

    I don’t think the offer understands the difference between speech recognition and language… They might as well say “it doesn’t translate well into Spanish, so I disagree with the study.”

    • Great Artiste

      “offer” ? do you mean author? See, there’s the problem right there. If people speak they way they write, no wonder speech recognition is a problem. (I know, sarcasm. Can’t help it.) Ha! And if you were using Google Voice, you should always proofread it before posting it in a public forum. You just illustrated why it’s so unreliable. Ironic.

  • Mick Psyphon

    It will never achieve 100%, despite any claims to the contrary. Aside from the natural evolution of languages, which exists solely at the human level, other factors that will forever stymie even the best computer programming are:
    – Regional/Colloquial accents.
    – International accents.
    – Biological speech impediments.
    – Emotions.
    – Irregular inflections and tones.
    – Vernacular

    in fact, I question the validity of any claims above 80%!

  • Kevin Davis

    Good, now they tutor their stupid cousin Bixby.😉

    • GoldPaintedLemons

      Would you help your cousin pick up all the girls you have a crush on?

      • Kevin Davis

        Lol, l like that.

  • Brian roy

    Not on cellphones

  • GoldPaintedLemons

    I’m thinking this is lab test numbers, i.e. ideal situation. 95 is really high, even for a humans.

    Next time you’re talking to someone in an even moderately noisy environment, try keeping a tally of how many individual words you understood COMPLETELY as they came out of their mouths vs how many you had to piece together out or retroactive context, visual ques, and common (human) sense.

    I’m using this as what sounds like an argument against Google ever beating humans, but honestly these are all areas that machine learning with the right algorithms and models should theoretically be quite good at doing eventually. I’m already seeing clues that they are.

  • Google seems to understand me when i talk to it.
    What i have a problem with is translating my colloquial/normal sentences into google commands.

  • Goblin Shark

    Nothing ever understands me. If I call someplace and the only option is to speak the menu commands, I’m doomed. I can usually get a pretty good result with Google, however.

  • Kunal Narang

    There are some rare occasions when Google can’t understand me. But it can identify my Indian accent very well even though my device language is US English. And yes, the Google speech recognition has improved over the years.

  • Link506

    Yeah. It’s not 95% on real world testing by any means. But Google assistant on Android wear ( just got the moto 360 update today. After a factory reset, it’s great) has gotten to be light years ahead of Google now. It still needs some work, but at least It won’t stall and pretend it’s trying to process my voice like 30 seconds after I said the message

  • Joseph

    I don’t think the author understands the difference between speech recognition and language…

  • Great Artiste

    I usually have very good enunciation IRL, I’m a native born American, my regional accent is fairly neutral standard American English, practically broadcast standard (born & raised 25 miles NW of NYC.) Trust me, it’s a night and day difference from New Yawkese, Jeoisey, Lownk Islant or all the variants of Southern US accents. Yet I have repeat myself when I’m tired & mumble or the music or TV is too loud. I have background noise from the street coming inside too. Alexa still beats Google in the home speaker category in my real world experience. I own, both the Echo, a Dot and the Google Home. btw, the Home is constantly waking up randomly to fragments of speech from the TV. No rhyme or reason to it. No actual response from the device, just the tone. Weird, annoying and buggy. Never have that problem from Amazon’s device. They have a long, long catching up to Alexa, IMO.