From self-checkout kiosks at the grocery store to order fulfillment robots at Amazon’s massive warehouses, there are countless jobs that technology could completely take over. Fortunately, professional court reporting services will never be one of them. That’s because digital recorders simply don’t have the capacities that human court reporters in the Bay Area do. No matter how “smart” a device is, it cannot replicate the human intelligence of court reporters.
Court reporters are interactive and adaptable.
One of the key functions of a court reporter is to read back the transcript verbatim when an attorney or judge requests it. Humans are able to quickly adapt to this need and fulfill it, whereas a “smart” digital recorder can’t. Hypothetically, say that a witness is testifying about seeing the defendant’s gray truck on the street where an accident took place. An attorney can ask the court reporter to repeat what the witness just said about how fast the truck was traveling. The court reporter will understand exactly what the attorney is asking for, whereas the digital recorder might repeat back every sentence with the word “truck” in it.
Digital recorders aren’t always accurate.
Court reporters are highly trained professionals who can write at least 225 words per minute on a stenography machine. Digital recorders can record rapid speech, but often do so inaccurately. For instance, a digital recorder won’t know the difference between the words “pair” and “pear” or “mail” and “male.” This is a serious problem for a field in which every word matters. In contrast, court reporters can process speech in context. And if anything is unclear, court reporters can ask the speaker to repeat a sentence or speak louder.
Court reporters never suffer technological breakdowns.
Another major reason why digital recorders can never replace human court reporters is that humans are reliable, and machines often aren’t. A malfunctioning digital recorder may have long gaps in the transcription, or it may shut down entirely. The attorneys and involved parties might not know about this problem until the proceeding is over, which could cause a serious miscarriage of justice. Professional court reporters will never have this problem.