[Miscellany] Automated news, Deepfake Christmas video, and Innocent newsletter

  1. Automated news

It has emerged that, last week, the BBC used computers to compose nearly 700 news articles relating to the election’s results. The news corporation is describing it as “machine-generated journalism”, and justifying it as thus:

“Using machine assistance, we generated a story for every single constituency that declared last night with the exception of the one that hasn’t finished counting yet. That would never have been possible [using humans].”

 

Robert McKenzie, editor of BBC News Labs, explained how the process worked:

“As a journalist, you try to think of every conceivable permutation of a story in advance,” he said.

“Then you write a template. The machine selects particular phrases or particular words in response to precise pieces of data. So you can write everything if you want to, in ‘house style’.”

 

This technology is deemed to be particularly useful to prepare news articles that consist mostly of reporting results, such as sports’ events, competitions and, of course, elections. Though, BBC is saying that the vision is to use AI to assist journalists’ in the news writing process, rather than to replace them, because the technology can only repeat statistics, not analyse them.

 

  1. Deepfake Christmas video

Still on the topic of elections, the Common Decency creative collective published a video showing the leaders of the UK’s major political parties singing the famous Christmas song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”.

 

The catch? The video is produced using Deepfake technology. [Wikipedia defines Deepfakes as “media that take a person in an existing image or video and replace them with someone else’s likeness using artificial neural networks”]

 

The focus of the video’s creators was to encourage civility in the period leading up to last week’s election. They weren’t trying to convince anyone that the event depicted was real. So, the final product is less than polished. Still, it is an impressive effort, don’t you think?

 

  1. Another great Innocent smoothies’ e-mail

And continuing on the theme of elections… trust Innocent smoothies to make you smile at the end of a difficult week. Last week’s e-mail newsletter was great as usual: in tune with the public mood, with a nod to the faint superstition most of us feel when the 13th of a month falls on a Friday, and very much aligned with the brand image. This newsletter is worth a follow, even if you don’t like smoothies.

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What has caught your attention, in the world of marketing and technology, recently?

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