(Via Slashdot):

PCMAG.COM is reporting that YouTube has just released their automatic captioning system for public use:

The technology still isn’t perfect, but Google is also using YouTube, with its vast array of accents, languages, background noise, and other distractions to improve its technology.

But the closed-captioning also means that millions of users who are hard of hearing, deaf, or simply speak another language as their primary language can now have a greater access to YouTube videos, the company said. “A core part of YouTube’s DNA is access to content,” said Hunter Walk, the product team lead for YouTube. “From day one, that’s what we were hoping to do with video.”

It’s worth noting that as well as opening up information access for “hard of hearing, deaf, or [non-English speakers]”, it’s also another example of Google making the world more and more machine-readable. Google Books is another massive-scale example of this.

Edit: After requesting automatic transcription of one of my YouTube videos yesterday (which features pretty clear spoken English), I’ve received a “Transcription Failed” message today. No option to retry or suggestions why. I.e. this tech might not be so fantastically world-changing yet.