Copyright © 1992 by Alan Stancliff. All rights reserved.

This article appeared in the March-April 1993 issue of J.A.A.M.T., official organ of the American Association for
Medical Transcription, Volume XII, Number 2. It was reprinted in the June-July 1993 issue of CALIGRAMS, official
organ of the California Court Reporters Association, Volume XXI, Number 6

Although most medical transcriptionists claim that voice recognition technology does
not frighten them, in the back of our minds, most of us are a little worried. In our
worst dreams, we enter our office and see a shiny new computer hooked up to a
telephone and a laser and watch the cursed thing spit out perfect copy as fast as the
doctor can mutter, while the supervisor hands us a termination notice. How real is this
vision and when could it start taking away our jobs?

Quite frequently, our colleagues, supervisors, and even AAMT officers rush to allay
our fears with pronouncements that these machines could never understand the variety
of accents, poor diction, background noise, etc, with which we deal every day.
Additionally, so we are told, those machines now in existence are expensive and need
to be trained to understand each particular dictator. Most doctors are loathe to invest
that kind of money, and have neither the time nor saintly virtue of patience necessary
to train these computers, having spent nearly every ounce of patience with which God
originally endowed them by going through their internships. However, if the truth be
told, except for instilling patience into the mortal souls of doctors, none of these
problems presents insurmountable barriers to today's technology, or at least, the
technology just over the horizon.