AI is entering journalism. Reuters has created an “artificial commentator”

One of the biggest news conglomerates has created a virtual sports journalist. The face and voice were provided by the technology behind the famous deepfake content, the content was provided by the AI ​​system, an artificial intelligence based on machine learning.

Reuters has created an automated commentator with Synthesia. The character model is based on Ossiana Shine, one of the agency’s sports managers. On the shared recording (shown at home to Britain’s ‘The Times’, among others), AI reads a 78-second summary of the football match between Leicester City and Burnley. Images from the Reuters database appear alongside.

The team meeting ended in a 2: 1 result for Leicester City took place in October. The machine calculates basic match statistics based on the football archive database. The Times notes that although the character looks quite human, he sounds a bit “wooden”. Everything is artificial – from the data collected, through the “production” of the video, to the delivery of the content. I guess only the photos were still taken by live photographers.

How about the original Ossian Shine? – It was fascinating to be involved in this project. At the same time, it was quite a surreal experience to later observe someone who looks and sounds like you, and says what they say under someone else’s dictation, he commented. .

Nick Cohen, head of information products at the agency, explains that this prototype must show the possibility of delivering completely new content (this is a proof-of-concept test) by integrating existing services (audio streams , video, photo database) with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence or synthetic modeling of voice and image (deepfake).

Eventually, the AI ​​could provide live information based on the Reuters news service. Already today, the machine algorithm automatically provides video summaries with match statistics, created for customers operating in social media.

Although Reuters points out that they have only created a prototype and that it is used in summaries of football matches, Cohen confirms his company’s interest and openness to applications in other fields.

– We are happy to use it for any type of information product. We already have the technology in our hands, but before releasing it in the real world, we must fully understand how it is perceived by the viewer and its ethical aspects, explains Nick Cohen.

A bot instead of a journalist

Last year, a public news agency showed the world some “fake” news anchors based on real Xinhua reporters. Unlike Zhang Zhao and Qu Meng, their synthetic versions can be seen around the clock. There’s also no doubt that they’ll read anything they’re told.

However, you don’t have to be a TV reporter to expect to lose your job to the machine. Dispatchers don’t have it easy either. A third of Bloomberg News articles are produced by the algorithm behind Cyborg. In turn, Forbes uses an artificial intelligence system called Bertie to help journalists work on texts by providing ready-to-use sketches of documents.

The Washington Post uses the Heliograf program. In its first year of operation, it produced 850 articles, winning the newspaper a 2016 award for using bots in media coverage of the presidential election. The newspaper’s management assures that their bot only makes life easier for journalists.

Apparently, Heliograf was created for the same reasons as the artificial intelligence machine that writes earthquake reports for the “Los Angeles Times” or creates a special city homicide website, “Homicide Report”.

Radio ain’t safe either

Radio fans are also having trouble sleeping, as the example of the massive layoffs at iHeartRadio, the Internet radio station owned by iHeartMedia, clearly shows. In mid-January, Monisha “Mo” Mann, one of the nightly DJs at B95 in Fresno, announced on Instagram that hundreds of people were being fired from numerous radio stations across the United States on Instagram. He was then himself replaced by a machine.

Management was quick to explain that the employment restriction was to “take full advantage of investments already made in artificial intelligence technology.” Already in 2018, some stations owned by iHeartMedia began testing a virtual DJ. The music mixing algorithm, written by programmers at startup Super Hi-Fi, is able to “understand the nuances of music with the same depth as a live DJ”.

The machine can not only play songs one after another, but also include previously recorded sound effects, statements and commercials in the transmission, creating a multi-layered composition. The result is an uninterrupted and smooth transmission typical of human labor in the manufacture of a device that does not tire and does not have to be paid. With AI, there’s also no fear that even a second of unnecessary silence will pass through the air.

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