As the size of pre-trained speech recognition models increases, running these large models in low-latency or resource-constrained environments becomes challenging. In this work, we leverage pseudo-labelling to assemble a large-scale open-source dataset which we use to distill the Whisper model into a smaller variant, called Distil-Whisper. Using a simple word error rate (WER) heuristic, we select only the highest quality pseudo-labels for training. The distilled model is 5.8 times faster with 51% fewer parameters, while performing to within 1% WER on out-of-distribution test data in a zero-shot transfer setting. Distil-Whisper maintains the robustness of the Whisper model to difficult acoustic conditions, while being less prone to hallucination errors on long-form audio. Distil-Whisper is designed to be paired with Whisper for speculative decoding, yielding a 2 times speed-up while mathematically ensuring the same outputs as the original model. To facilitate further research in this domain, we make our training code, inference code and models publicly accessible.
The advancement of speech technologies has been remarkable, yet its integration with African languages remains limited due to the scarcity of African speech corpora. To address this issue, we present AfroDigits, a minimalist, community-driven dataset of spoken digits for African languages, currently covering 38 African languages. As a demonstration of the practical applications of AfroDigits, we conduct audio digit classification experiments on six African languages [Igbo (ibo), Yoruba (yor), Rundi (run), Oshiwambo (kua), Shona (sna), and Oromo (gax)] using the Wav2Vec2.0-Large and XLS-R models. Our experiments reveal a useful insight on the effect of mixing African speech corpora during finetuning. AfroDigits is the first published audio digit dataset for African languages and we believe it will, among other things, pave the way for Afro-centric speech applications such as the recognition of telephone numbers, and street numbers. We release the dataset and platform publicly at https://huggingface.co/datasets/chrisjay/crowd-speech-africa and https://huggingface.co/spaces/chrisjay/afro-speech respectively.
Large language models (LLMs) have been shown to be able to perform new tasks based on a few demonstrations or natural language instructions. While these capabilities have led to widespread adoption, most LLMs are developed by resource-rich organizations and are frequently kept from the public. As a step towards democratizing this powerful technology, we present BLOOM, a 176B-parameter open-access language model designed and built thanks to a collaboration of hundreds of researchers. BLOOM is a decoder-only Transformer language model that was trained on the ROOTS corpus, a dataset comprising hundreds of sources in 46 natural and 13 programming languages (59 in total). We find that BLOOM achieves competitive performance on a wide variety of benchmarks, with stronger results after undergoing multitask prompted finetuning. To facilitate future research and applications using LLMs, we publicly release our models and code under the Responsible AI License.
Speech recognition applications cover a range of different audio and text distributions, with different speaking styles, background noise, transcription punctuation and character casing. However, many speech recognition systems require dataset-specific tuning (audio filtering, punctuation removal and normalisation of casing), therefore assuming a-priori knowledge of both the audio and text distributions. This tuning requirement can lead to systems failing to generalise to other datasets and domains. To promote the development of multi-domain speech systems, we introduce the End-to-end Speech Benchmark (ESB) for evaluating the performance of a single automatic speech recognition (ASR) system across a broad set of speech datasets. Benchmarked systems must use the same data pre- and post-processing algorithm across datasets - assuming the audio and text data distributions are a-priori unknown. We compare a series of state-of-the-art (SoTA) end-to-end (E2E) systems on this benchmark, demonstrating how a single speech system can be applied and evaluated on a wide range of data distributions. We find E2E systems to be effective across datasets: in a fair comparison, E2E systems achieve within 2.6% of SoTA systems tuned to a specific dataset. Our analysis reveals that transcription artefacts, such as punctuation and casing, pose difficulties for ASR systems and should be included in evaluation. We believe E2E benchmarking over a range of datasets promotes the research of multi-domain speech recognition systems. ESB is available at https://huggingface.co/esb.