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SpeechTEK 2009 has come and gone, and if you’re like me, then you visited the vendor booths and checked out the latest and greatest in speech technology. However, there might have been a few vendor booths you missed. Tucked away in a corner—in a stall, in the restroom, by the hand towels, on the third floor—were the reverse speech analysis booths.

“What’s reverse speech analysis?” you ask. Well, if you spent any time in the third-floor restroom at the Marriott Marquis, you would already know.  

As any industry analyst will tell you, the speech industry has poured tremendous amounts of time, money, and research into speech analytics—all to deliver improved automatic recognition and audio mining capabilities. But one branch of this technology has been routinely overlooked, a branch that is able to plumb the depths of the human unconscious: reverse speech analysis.

As Speech Technology editorial assistant Eric Barkin—who wrote about reverse speech analysis on www.speechtechblog.com—will tell you, reverse speech analysis is derived from the premise that the unconscious is a mirror world and that speech can be inverted to reveal unconscious thoughts and intentions.  

Reverse speech analysts claim that by reversing a recorded utterance—Helter Skelter, by the Beatles, for example—they can access unconscious material buried in the speaker’s words and psyche.

John Kelly, a renowned reverse speech analyst, claims to have predicted world events—such as the invasion of Iraq and the identity of the BTK Killer—all via this little-known speech technology. In a 2006 interview, he defended his art, stating that his repeated results defy chance.

While some (read: most) speech industry insiders scoff at Kelly and reverse speech analysis in general, we refuse to dismiss any speech technology—no matter how bizarre or marginal it might or might not be.

Kelly claims to have recently discovered that President Barack Obama might have some sort of inside information about extraterrestrial modes of transport when he picked out the reverse phrase “knows power of alien saucer” from a taped speech in which the president uttered the words “to responsibly leave Iraq to its people.”

Nonetheless, many vendors and speech scientists remain unconvinced about reverse speech analytics. “I would say we are this much closer to the Apocalypse. It is only a matter of time until the world caves in,” said one analyst, speaking, of course, on the condition of anonymity.

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