- Abstract: We present an unsupervised method for learning speech representations based on a bidirectional contrastive predictive coding that implicitly discovers phonetic structure from large-scale corpora of unlabelled raw audio signals. The representations, which we learn from up to 8000 hours of publicly accessible speech data, are evaluated by looking at their impact on the behaviour of supervised speech recognition systems. First, across a variety of datasets, we find that the features learned from the largest and most diverse pretraining dataset result in significant improvements over standard audio features as well as over features learned from smaller amounts of pretraining data. Second, they significantly improve sample efficiency in low-data scenarios. Finally, the features confer significant robustness advantages to the resulting recognition systems: we see significant improvements in out-of-domain transfer relative to baseline feature sets, and the features likewise provide improvements in four different low-resource African language datasets.
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