Chinese Whisper Challenge Pits Man Against Machine

Jort Band
February 6th 2013

What would happen if you let computer and man compete? Not in obvious ways, like who can do faster calculations or win the Jeopardy game show. Rather, what about a challenge right on the border of our abilities?

Speech is one such border. Many smartphones have fairly advanced speech recognition. Although humans can still recognize spoken words much better than a computer, we can easily misinterpret a message or forget it. To pit human against machine, design student Ylja Band made an online experiment in which she makes man and machine compete in the form of the Chinese whisper challenge. The human participant and the computer try to pass the same message via speech, ending up with very different results.

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