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Descript is a mindblowing editing shortcut for audio and video

(TECH NEWS) Descript is an automatic transcription tool that uses machine-learning to make transcribing easier.

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Anyone getting into audio/video editing for the first time is almost immediately struck with the sheer enormity and complexity of it all. Even if you have the physical hardware, the proper software, and the creative spark to produce media, that doesn’t make the process of editing it all into a cohesive product any less daunting. For those of us struggling under the sisyphean weight of complicated editing workflows, a new product aims to relieve us all of this struggle. Enter Descript, an automatic transcription tool.

Descript uses machine-learning to transcribe your raw audio and video files into a dialogue script. This in itself is an incredibly valuable tool for anyone looking to transcribe podcasts, youtube videos, or whatever kind of media you produce. But this is just the beginning of what makes this app so special.

Descript is the world’s first audio word processor. Using the transcript the app creates from your audio, you can edit the text script to change the media itself. Removing the “umms” and “ahhs” from your speech — or removing whole sentences at a time — is as simple as using the backspace key on a word processor.

As a would-be podcaster, I played around with the app over the weekend, so I can tell you my initial impressions of the app. While it’s not for me (not yet, anyway), it is incredibly easy and fun and quite frankly mindblowing to use.

First things first, let’s talk about the cost.

The app works on a subscription model that pays by the minute. New users are able to upload up to 30 minutes of audio for free, but anything past that will require paying 15 cents per minute or signing up for a monthly subscription. Keep in mind these costs apply to total raw audio uploaded, not finished product audio produced. So if you’re the type (like me) to record several hours of audio per week only to trim it down to a single hour of product, this may be a bit on the wasteful side.

As for the transcription itself, the program’s machine-learning transcription transcribed my dulcet tones into the appropriate written words with nearly complete accuracy. I did have a few issues with the program understanding other speakers, but I believe that may have been a fault on my end that I’ll go into later. If the machine-learning transcription isn’t accurate enough for you, you can also choose to pay extra in order to have your audio specially transcribed by real human professionals.

The app can divide audio between different people speaking, but not automatically. If you have different audio files for each speaker, then each audio file will be labeled separately from the start. If multiple speakers are on the same audio track (like mine), then you’ll have to notate these differing speakers in the script yourself. I believe this is why the program had difficulty transcribing other speakers on the audio than myself. Being on the same audio track, the machine attuned itself to my voice (the first speaker on the recording) and was trying to interpret other people’s words as if I were the one saying them.

As for the audio editing aspect of this program, well, it really needs to be experienced to be believed. I was told what the program could do beforehand, but actually editing audio just by changing words around on a script is something else entirely. Cutting out non sequitur sentences, removing unnecessary articles, or even changing the order of words around to better suit the flow of conversation — through a literal word processor — will make you feel like an arcane grammar wizard.

Will this replace your entire audio/video workflow? Probably not. At least not yet. In addition to the cost factor which may be prohibitive to some users, there are some issues of editing that aren’t based on word choice. I found myself frustrated at my inability to change the timing of spaces between words, sometimes leaving gaps between sentences (or not enough space between words). Of course, I only had the program for a weekend, so this could very well be attributed to user error.

Whatever flaws real or imagined this program may have, it’s very important to keep in mind that Descript is the first of its kind.

It can only improve from here, not to mention potentially inspire a wave of similar programs that may very well function better. Whether or not Descript is right for you, what’s undeniable is that this program is the start of something amazing.

James M Lane, AINS was born into this world without his consent an ornery 60 year old man with a full beard. He has worked in the insurance industry for the last half decade, and was a foreign language preschool teacher for years before that. He writes horror in his spare time. Follow him on Instagram for deliberations on pro wrestling and beards.

Tech News

Defense startups are getting beaucoup bucks from the DoD

(TECH NEWS) Some tech companies are getting large venture capital because the Department of Defense is looking for new defense startups.

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While private investors remain wary of funding defense startups, they are still keeping an eye on the possible venture opportunities. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is hoping domestic investors will increase spending into these startups in order to compete with China’s strategy of creating private equity firms to invest into foreign technologies.

A major reason for the growing interest by venture capitalists is the shift in focus from traditional weapons to tools for information warfare, meaning software and tech systems. Defense startups are creating products that may have multiple benefits outside the DoD.

Changes in the defense venture landscape are slow with all three parties learning how to benefit from one another. Startups realize working with the DoD is a “mission-driven objective” as stated by Ryan Tseng, founder of Shield AI. “We went into this eyes wide open, knowing full well that to the venture community, the math doesn’t make sense.”

However, there are several big investor players already in the game. Andreessen Horowitz, a top-tier venture fund is banking on the economic sustainability of defense startups in the future. They’ve already invested in Shield AI and defense tech company Anduril Industries. Additionally, the Founders Fund, another big name venture firm led by Silicon investors Peter Thiel, Brian Singerman, and Ken Howery is investing in Anduril and goTenna after successfully backing SpaceX and Palantir Technologies.

Defense companies’ emphasis on tech could be the answer to challenges usually associated with DoD investments like competing against dominate manufacturers with steady government contracts and long procurement cycles. U.S. Code 2377 stipulates that commercially available items be considered first in procurement efforts. If defense startups can enter the market, they will also stand a chance of winning government contracts over bigger, traditional companies, thus diversifying the playing field.

But until there is a greater guarantee of a payoff, investors are likely to remain skeptical. The possibilities for this new generation of defense companies is going to needs some more wins to prove the future is in their corner.

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Goal-based project management tool simplifies your work life

(TECH NEWS) If you are struggling to keep tasks straight then this new tool Qoals allows for a simpler and more straightforward way to accomplish goals as a team.

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Qoals pitch

We all have goals – whether they be personal, professional, financial, etc. Anyone can set a goal, all it takes is having a thought and assigning it a certain level of importance. However, not everyone completes their goals due to the oft difficulties and confusions associated with execution.

Like anything else, if there’s a will, there’s a way. A new way has been found in the form of Qoals – a simple and straightforward tool that helps you to get aligned around business goals instead of an endless wall of tasks.

The ability to complete goals is done through: setting goals, adding tasks, collecting things, and tracking progress. With this, everyone on your team has access to this information to keep tabs on what’s happening.

With setting goals, you create and prioritize your goals, letting your team members know which ones are most important at that time. Goals can be prioritized with tabs such as: long term, short term, and urgent. By adding tasks, you can add and assign tasks to set a clear path in order to complete set goals.

In collecting things, you collect resources related to your goal and keep them in one safe place (again, this is accessible to your whole team). This doesn’t require uploading files, but simply including links to resources to keep everything easily accessible. Finally, by tracking progress, everyone on the team can see where you’re at with your goals – which saves time with the follow ups of “how’s Goal X going?”

Why did Qoals develop this goal-oriented approach? “It’s about time we simplify things,” according to the official website. “Get aligned around goals and let everyone know what’s important for the business. Add goals under various projects and start adding tasks and resources to make that goal happen.”

Additionally, Qoals boasts that this provides users with a birds-eye view of what’s happening with their team, allowing them to be more human-centric. You can create unlimited projects, set and track your goals, collected everything related to said goal, keep the discussion relevant, access your tasks with one click, stay connected to your team, and see what’s going on at a glance.
Qoals is currently in beta.

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7 ways AI will transform health care

(TECH NEWS) Instead of worrying about the singularity of AI technology, let’s shine a ray of hope, and show one of the best ways to use AI robots.

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Artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionized business practices across many industries. With 39% of health care providers investing in AI-related technologies, it’s safe to say it’s about to transform the medical industry as well. AI’s disruptive potential may increase profits in other sectors, but in health care, it can save lives.

While robots aren’t quite ready to replace doctors, they can help them accomplish their tasks with higher speed and precision. AI in the hospital is not just a thing of the future, either. All around the world, smart machines are already assisting medical staff in a variety of ways.

As this technology refines, machine learning will become an increasingly regular part of medicine. Here are seven ways AI will transform health care in the coming years.

1. Robot-Assisted Surgery

It may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but surgery robots are already in use. In 2017, more than 690,000 surgeries were assisted by robots in the U.S. alone. As these machines continue to demonstrate their worth, they’ll appear in more operating rooms.

Robotic surgeons like the da Vinci Surgical System offer more precise and less invasive movements than human hands and traditional tools. With AI, they can improve upon surgical methods. AI-enabled surgery bots can notice reactions in a patient invisible to the human eye and make necessary adjustments.

2. Early Diagnoses

Intelligent programs can quickly analyze vast amounts of information. This unique talent makes AI ideal for making preliminary diagnoses in patients. Smart machines can take note of patients’ symptoms and interpret them to make an early diagnosis while doctors make their rounds.

The accuracy of these diagnoses will improve as AI develops, but even at its current state, they can be useful. Doctors can use them as a starting-off point. A list of likely diagnoses can be a helpful resource to doctors when trying to diagnose patients as quickly as possible. They might also make health care professionals consider options they otherwise wouldn’t have thought of, increasing accuracy.

3. Administrative Assistance

Treating patients is not the only duty of health care professionals. Doctors and nurses have to take records of patient data, from symptoms to insurance information, so they can refer to them later or send them to other hospitals. This process can take time, and any issues along the way can create problems for patients and doctors alike.

IT usability is a critical part of health care, and AI can optimize it. Intelligent systems can find ways to streamline the information-sharing process, ensuring health workers get the data they need as soon as possible. AI can also handle administrative tasks like scheduling and logistics, allowing hospital staff to focus on more pressing concerns.

4. Health Screenings

Just as AI applications can diagnose patients, they can also make predictions about a person’s fitness for a given situation. Predictive analytics is an AI function that analyzes historical data to make predictions about future outcomes. AI systems can use predictive analytics to perform more nuanced health screenings.

AI can tell doctors is a patient would be fit for surgery or not. Similarly, it can advise people if they aren’t a suitable candidate for physically exerting activities or tests. These analytics consider a wide range of data, including things a human might overlook, leading to more accurate predictions.

5. Remote Monitoring

AI can also optimize health care outside of the hospital. Wearable technology is already prevalent with products like Fitbit, and the medical industry can use this to its advantage. With wearable health-monitoring devices, doctors can monitor their patients remotely.

Remote monitoring devices can alert patients if they need to see a doctor. Should an emergency occur, they can also alert hospital staff so they can send an ambulance. These noninvasive technologies will allow patients with conditions such as heart disease to live without fear by providing them with almost instant assistance.

6. Robot Nurses

Intelligent robots can help fix the nursing labor shortage by filling in those vital roles. Nursing robots are already working in Japanese hospitals and may soon see use in the U.S. These machines can help patients move, reduce their stress and remind them to take their medicine.

With AI, these robot nurses can adapt to each patient’s needs and desires. By analyzing how different people respond to various stimuli and situations, they can customize care. Intelligent nurse robots treat patients in a manner ideal for their health and comfort needs.

7. AI-Enabled Genomics

Compared to humans, AI is better suited for data-heavy tasks. Since DNA sequencing is a form of data analysis, it’s an ideal area to employ AI.

Using artificial intelligence in genomics has already shown impressive results. In 2019, an AI system identified new genetic mutations that contributed to autism. The system could detect patterns in DNA humans would not be able to, as well as predict how changing each gene would affect a person.

AI Is Revolutionizing Medicine

Artificial intelligence is changing the way the health care industry operates. With continued research and improvement, AI systems could save countless lives.

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