Will Court Reporting Be Replaced by Technology?

Advancements in AI make things looks scary for everyone.

Will Court Reporting Be Replaced by Technology?

With the rise of robotics, artificial intelligence, and faster and smarter computers, it’s understandable to be worried about your job security. Particularly for jobs that require the ability to listen and understand human speech, such as transcribers and court reporters, it can be extra concerning to see brand new technologies roll out from major companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon that possess the ability to listen to and understand voice commands. That said, it’s hard to imagine that court reporters will be replaced by technology any time soon. That’s because the legal knowledge, discernment skills, and affordability of court reporters offer them great staying power.

Court reporters have better legal knowledge than tech.

One primary reason that court reporters aren’t going anywhere is because of their depth of understanding about the legal system and courtroom proceedings. Becoming a court reporter requires an associate degree or certificate as well as the ability to pass a licensing exam, and this depth of knowledge can be hard to draw upon for a computer, regardless of the size of its database. Think about your experiences getting a wrong diagnosis from a website like WebMD, then imagine artificial intelligence needing to have an even deeper understanding of courtroom decorum. It’s hard to imagine a computer that’s able to keep up with a series of motions, appeals, and calls for order from a judge, much less to contextualize these events in a way that informs their transcription. Until computers can receive associate degrees, you shouldn’t worry too much about them replacing your job as a court reporter.

Court reporters offer value.

Another area that court reporters beat technology in is value. Many people think of technology as something that can help a business save both time and money. While that is true in some arenas, it couldn’t be further from the truth in regards to court reporting. Court cases can often go on for days, weeks, or even months, and recording all of that audio, much less storing it digitally, would be a costly expenditure. That’s not even factoring in the cost of transcription technologies. Plus, considering how error-prone your smartphone’s voice-to-text feature is, it’s hard to believe that you wouldn’t need to hire a trained court reporter to clean up your transcripts after the fact. When the average salary of court reporters in West Palm Beach is about $53,000, it’s hard to imagine a world in which you’d prefer to go through the hassle of paying for expensive and ineffective software.

Court reporters listen better.

One final place where live humans excel in court reporting is in listening. Think of how quickly you are typically tasked with creating a transcript of a trial, and the variety of factors that can complicate this task. To do this, at times you might be reading someone’s lips, discerning legal jargon from someone with a thick accent, and determining the content of a heated exchange in which two speakers are talking over one another. In all of these situations, the human brain is much better than a computer at deciphering, interpreting, and transcribing language. Expecting a computer to have the same accuracy and efficiency is like expecting Siri or Amazon Echo to be able to understand your requests while the vacuum is running. Even major corporations such as Facebook can’t build better technology like this. When spelling, grammar, and comprehension are concerned, transcription is best left to the professionals, too.

While technology is making incredible advances each year, there are some areas where it is still less than optimal. Voice recognition and transcription is one such weakness, making court reporting a job that should remain far from obsolete for the next few decades. Until technology can offer better value, listening skills, and overall knowledge of the legal system, a licensed court reporter is any court’s best bet.

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Tobias Gillot
See all posts by Tobias Gillot