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President's Message September 2019
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President's Message
by Janet Harris, CER, CET, AAERT President


It's Back to School wherever you look these days. Summer is over and a slow August will typically be followed by a very active September for our members. AAERT's Education Committee has seen an uptick in schools requesting assistance and approval of digital reporting and transcription programs. We're very excited to be involved in these efforts to expand educational opportunities and programs to members and those interested in the court reporting industry. Certification registrations are also increasing. Congratulations to our recent newly certified members!

Education can never be taken away from you. It is the foundation for success, personally and professionally. In the past year, AAERT has seen developments in technology occurring so quickly, it is challenging to stay up-to-date and understand how the developments in artificial intelligence will impact our industry, our work life, and our personal lives. I know I appreciate the AI in my vehicle for safety, and in my cell phone to help manage my life more easily. AI is playing a role in medical diagnoses and nearly every facet of life. The Natural Language Processing (NLP) branch of Artificial Intelligence is what we are concerned with when we discuss automated speech recognition (ASR). This area is known to be especially difficult due to the nuances in language, how it changes, semantics and syntax. Unfortunately, fear of the unknown breeds speculation of the future and not necessarily accurately. It is Back to School time for the association as well -- a time for informed discourse and critical thinking. Many may recall when digital reporting threatened the steno industry with "replacement of jobs." However, the shortage of court reporters exists in great part because the profession could not produce the numbers needed to supply the ever growing need.

Digital reporters and transcribers are in great demand. The technology we use today is far superior to the technology we used to capture proceedings 20 years ago on cassette tapes. We strive for efficiencies in all aspects of our lives, to maximize our earning potential, and improve our productivity. AI/ASR tech blogs may tout all kinds of promises, but we have yet to see a product that produces a verbatim transcript with the accuracy of a certified reporter/transcriber or stenographic reporter or verbatim voice writer. The technology shows impressive development over the past decades and will likely get better over time, but the need for certified reporters and transcribers to produce the final certified transcript remains necessary.

When you are learning about a new technology, it's important to ask questions. Educate yourself, reach out to subject matter experts, and try it out for yourself. Allow yourself time to read, discuss, evaluate, witness, share, and formulate your opinion based on facts and actual experience, rather than falling prey to hype based on fear and speculation. In all your professional interactions, remember to be respectful because no one knows everything. This industry needs all of us now and for a long time in the future. Collectively, we can learn a great deal from each other. Don't let a single voice drown out the wisdom of the group.

AAERT is committed to providing members with access to differing opinions and subject matter experts from various perspectives. We hope you will join the discussion for a positive outcome for all.

Janet Harris, CER, CET, AAERT President




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