The Register has built up a picture of the company that makes believing SpinVox’s revised claims extremely difficult. Sources suggest SpinVox, a privately held company, is employing a far larger number of transcribers than it publicly states, even today. These sources also point to extreme difficulties in maintaining its operations as the company scaled, winning new carrier contracts in new markets. And an investigation into the company’s much-vaunted intellectual property holdings indicates that it holds no machine translation patents.
The humans can make themselves felt. In one case, unpaid staff in Pakistan took over the centre and began broadcasting “distress” text messages to SpinVox subscribers in North America.
By insisting that its operation relies primarily on machines, rather than human manpower, SpinVox avoids security issues and can maintain a much higher corporate valuation. Mobile carriers are aware that ‘Mechanical Turk’ (named after the chess-playing Victorian automaton that concealed a human operator) transcription has high costs, as Vodafone found out with its human-assisted service.
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