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June 27, 2014

When YouTube's Automatic Captions Were Funny

YouTube's auto-captioning feature used to work so poorly that the captions were funny and not very useful. There's a video from 2010 that shows how the "transcribe audio function turns great works of literature into hilarious nonsense". Annotations include the original text, while The Bakery team reads YouTube's automatic captions.

You can also watch the original video, enable automatic captions and see how well YouTube's feature works right now. The nice thing about online services is that they can constantly improve. While YouTube's captions aren't perfect, they're a lot better than they were back in 2010. Here are some examples:

Original text: "Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen"
YouTube captions in 2010: "Frightened for Tickets watch she"
YouTube captions in 2014: "Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen"

Original text: "1984 by George Orwell"
YouTube captions in 2010: "1984 but it wasn't"
YouTube captions in 2014: "1984 by George Orwell"

Original text: "it was a bright cold day in April"
YouTube captions in 2010: "it was a bright cocaine"
YouTube captions in 2014:"it was a bright cold day in April"

Original text:  "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins, my sin, my soul"
YouTube captions in 2010: "Lisa, months of my life, Floyd of my dealings, much months old"
YouTube captions in 2014:  "liter light of my life fire of my loins my seen my soul".

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