Unsupervised Speech Recognition

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2021)

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Authors

Alexei Baevski, Wei-Ning Hsu, Alexis CONNEAU, Michael Auli

Abstract

Despite rapid progress in the recent past, current speech recognition systems still require labeled training data which limits this technology to a small fraction of the languages spoken around the globe. This paper describes wav2vec-U, short for wav2vec Unsupervised, a method to train speech recognition models without any labeled data. We leverage self-supervised speech representations to segment unlabeled audio and learn a mapping from these representations to phonemes via adversarial training. The right representations are key to the success of our method. Compared to the best previous unsupervised work, wav2vec-U reduces the phone error rate on the TIMIT benchmark from 26.1 to 11.3. On the larger English Librispeech benchmark, wav2vec-U achieves a word error rate of 5.9 on test-other, rivaling some of the best published systems trained on 960 hours of labeled data from only two years ago. We also experiment on nine other languages, including low-resource languages such as Kyrgyz, Swahili and Tatar.