I know this is a somewhat old post, and I read this question a while ago, regarding why stenos are still used in governmental chambers (as well as in courtrooms, depositions, closed-captioning and in college classrooms - live or remotely - for the hearing impaired) and I came upon it again today and just had to respond.
It is easy to assume, when one does not "report" or "work with" the spoken word, that speech recognition/audio recording are a better alternative to live reporters (stenographers). However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Writing (that's what we call it, not "typing") the spoken word, live, is an exercise in immense cognitive abilities as well as physical skill. It is not just "getting words on paper," so to speak. Capturing live speech may appear to be an easy, rote task, but it is anything but.
A steno has undergone years of training to get to the point of producing realtime text (and years of work experience to obtain employment at this high of a governmental level). This training consists of years of practicing (like a musical instrument) to be able to keep up with the speed of speech. Most highly qualified stenos can "write" at a rate of over 300 wpm or spm (strokes per minute) with close to 99 percent accuracy.
Stenos learn to write phonetically on a 22-blank-key (some have a couple more keys if desired) Stenograph machine, or keyboard, and there are various "writing theories" available. They also use briefs and quick keystrokes for common words and phrasing, and their personalized dictionary translates the steno code into English immediately. They build "job dictionaries" (in addition to their main dictionary) related to the subject they are working on, which means cleaner subsequent translation, especially when dealing with obtuse, difficult subject matters.
They ARE NOT keying in individual letters, unless that "letter" needs to translate as an actual alphabetical letter or that individual key translates to an actual word (depending on how the software is programmed by the steno). They can write whole segments of speech in one keystroke. While there are a handful of theories that a steno can embark upon, once all is said and done, EACH AND EVERY stenographer has their own style of writing, their own "code" that they create and build on, after graduating from school. Even two reporters who learned the same basic theory will have a completely different writing style. It is an art form.
And, by the way, only around 3 percent of each starting class becomes a full-fledged stenographer. There is a dramatic drop-out rate because the skill is extremely hard to learn: the equivalent of learning a new language as well as a musical instrument at the same time.....and learning it FAST and ACCURATELY.
Stenos are able to discern who is speaking (place speaker's name in the record) as well as ignore extraneous noises, deal with accents, unclear speech, punctuate as they write, etc, etc. It is no small feat. Also, a steno must have an enormous grasp on the English language (vocabulary and knowledge in virtually all fields/subject matters) to be able to capture the record.
There is also the very important issue of punctuation. It may seem simple, but, when writing live, it can become complex. Speakers change thoughts mid-sentence, cut each other off mid-sentence, talk over each other, use incorrect grammar (even highly educated folks), and of course ramble and make up words, to name just a few issues. The steno is "on it" and able to punctuate appropriately to make sure that what appears in the final text is actually what was being conveyed by the speaker. As we all know, incorrect punctuation can have disastrous results.
Stenos will also immediately clarify any unclear speech, on the spot. This cannot be done by a machine or a recording. As far as having proceedings recorded and then typed up? Now that IS archaic. Stenos produce the transcript/text second by second, with usually a small amount of time spent, after the proceedings are completed, looking over the text, checking for small errors, fixing errant punctuation, or maybe possibly a word that did not translate (appeared as steno code) before sending off the final version, if needed.
Stenos are able to imbue the record with their life experience in addition to learned subject matters. This is crucial and often overlooked. The steno is comprehending, following along, while writing, using their knowledge base and skills to create the record. There MUST be an educated "brain" involved in the process, at the time of the proceedings, not after the fact.
The software that stenos use also automatically records the audio as they write it. It is synced to the word. So, if someone wants to hear something played back, there is no need to rewind/forward/etc as the steno can click on the exact spot and play the audio if need be.
I wanted to give an idea of the background and training of a stenographer so that my making the following statement will make more sense: As of the present time, stenographers are the ONLY form of reliable, fast, accurate speech-to-text translation. AI is nowhere near capable of processing intense proceedings (or even non-intense proceedings) and it will probably never be, at least not in our lifetime. It works great for simple commands or one-speaker email preparation (kind of), but that is a VASTLY different environment from the one stenos work in, which commonly consists of multiple speakers, heated arguments, high emotion, dense subject matters of the utmost importance.
Having someone type from an audio recording usually leads to numerous errors due to bad audio, lack of education on behalf of the transcriber, equipment failure AND it takes up to four times as long, and that's with a "good quality" recording. Why type when a steno can have the written word on screen within one second?
The idea of having someone go through a transcript prepared by AI, to correct the NUMEROUS errors, is, again, bordering on archaic (compared to what stenos offer) and extremely time-consuming and leads to errors (no one to ask for clarification after the fact - possibly low knowledge base, being unable to even know what word is missing, the meaning of sentences, etc). Every steno knows that if you did not hear/understand something live, it is highly unlikely that your audiosync (digital recording in SW) is going to portray the words/terms any clearer. So, please explain how this scenario would be any different for someone "checking" an AI "attempt" of parsing speech? Again, it takes MUCH longer since you basically have to listen to the whole proceeding AGAIN in order to make the tedious/overwhelming corrections. Why do that when a steno is spot-on?
Stenos play a "verbal piano" and have spent years obtaining the skill and knowledge necessary to be successful in the field. Stenos are constantly updating their knowledge base, dictionaries (the files that translate the code), and software/hardware. Stenos use extremely sophisticated technology.
And, finally, stenos ARE NOT creating "minutes." They are creating a verbatim account of all that was said. Huge difference.
Many courts have made the mistake of believing that having proceedings audio-recorded, and later typed up if necessary, would be great and save tons of money. Most of those courts have brought back the live stenos, once they realized the error of their ways as far as incomplete transcripts, transcripts littered with "inaudible," and major delays in receiving said transcripts.
Stenographers play a vital role in the administration of justice, recording events for posterity, and being the "ears" for the deaf and hearing impaired. It is a very misunderstood field which contributes to statements/questions being asked such as the one I'm responding to. And I have only briefly outlined the training and benefits of a stenographer.
I hope this sheds more light on why stenos are the GOLD STANDARD in capturing live speech.
I would also highly recommend reading this:
He offers a very detailed analysis of the benefits of stenos over AI and digital recording, as well as a little more information on how the steno machine is used (thousands of possible keystroke combinations) and really clarifies these points much better than I did.