THE BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION (BBC) has begun the process of nailing jelly to the hothouse wall, as it starts looking at ways to improve its programming using artificial intelligence (AI) and has actually chosen to announce it right in the middle of the last series of its mockumentary W1A. *INQ journalist rubs hands*
Auntie Beeb has announced a five-year research partnership with eight UK universities to look at how it can bring machine learning to the media industry.
The idea is that rather than all that messy asking people, they will be able to look at people's viewing habits, over-the-air and through iPlayer, run them through a neural network or three, and find out what computers think that humans think they want to watch on television.
Auntie is already pushing for a more personalised BBC experience more akin to Netflix, a "BBC ME" if you're a W1A fan, but it goes further than that. Almost a "Syncopatischedule". The BBC website now requires users to log-in so it can monitor habits and deliver a personalised service and definitely not to check your TV Licence.
The BBC future appears to be "object-based broadcasting" (and that one actually isn't from W1A). Giving a news bulletin as an example, you could splice it up and play in in the order that suits you - skip all references to Trump and make news stories about crisps top every night. Make the weather longer. Make the sport shorter. Make Huw Edwards sing My Way. The possibilities aren't endless but they're certainly there.
"OK guys, if we don't whack this racoon first time we're looking at a total crapfest. No question." - Siobhan Sharpe, W1A
Matthew Postgate, the BBC's chief technology and product officer, says: "The BBC has always been at its best when it combines creativity with technology. As we reinvent the BBC, we can see the opportunities that data and machine learning are opening up for us, our creative talent and our audiences. This partnership will help us break new ground and ensure we continue giving audiences the very best in public service broadcasting well into the future."
As well as the work at the BBC, the research will work alongside broadcaster throughout Europe. It also contains an educational element, helping staff learn skills which the corporation sees as vital to its future, and could lead to everything from the basics through to MSc Data Science Apprenticeships.
Now let's nail this puppy to the floor. µ
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