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BBC bosses have been working on AI – which could see robots replacing “malfunctioning” presenters like Gary Lineker.
The corporation’s design and engineering department has been quietly toying with using artificially intelligent “directors” to produce content.
A TV source said the mess over Gary being suspended from his Match of the Day hosting duties after he tweeted to slam Suella Braverman’s migrant boats plan had sparked jokes it would be better to have robo-hosts who wouldn’t “malfunction” and spark embarrassing scandals.
The insider added: “The BBC’s tech department let AI direct a show in 2017, and the joke now is it would be better to have robot presenters as they can be completely controlled and don’t cause any hassle.
READ MORE: Gary Lineker makes TV return after BBC saga and immediately delivers cheeky line
“They also don’t have to have their contracts negotiated, have huge salaries, and most importantly can be programmed not to go off-programme by tweeting like Gary and making the BBC look like censoring idiots.”
In 2017, the BBC harnessed AI to make a series of comedy panel and discussion shows staged at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, and have been investigating the use of the tech to operate cameras.
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The programmes were recorded at George Heriot School and included the satirical current affairs quiz Breaking the News, the Janice Forsyth Show, Jazz Line up, Late Junction and Global Beats.
Matthew Postgate, the BBC’s chief technology and product officer until 2020, has admitted the use of AI signifies a “profound” shift in the way the corporation serves viewers. He added AI had learned how to direct by analysing data and the formats of thousands of shows within the same genre.
Matthew said: “The computer is standing on the shoulders of a generation of TV directors to establish when to cut from someone speaking to another person reacting. This is about augmenting what humans do, not replacing them.
“We aren’t trying to replace TV directors, but because we don’t have infinite resource, this could open up the number of events we can cover.”
The BBC has also been using AI to improve its iPlayer service by letting it serve up audiences with recommendations as soon as the credits of shows roll. And it has created an interactive shows where viewers can collaborate with AI to control the narrative.
Matthew said: “The most creative voice experiences are two-way, and the story can ask you questions as well as you asking it.”
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- Gary Lineker
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