This is peak AI: Bot to guest edit Radio 4's Today programme

How will you tell the difference?

#F_AI_L The BBC has confirmed that Radio 4's Today programme will conduct an interview with a politician via an AI bot "modelled on Mishal Husain".

The flagship current affairs show draws the station's biggest audience – and at Christmas brings in several celebrity "editors" as a gimmick. The AI bot will "guest edit" and interview a politician, the BBC claims.

The Independent explains that Today will "alongside global experts [discuss] the ramifications of AI in daily life and how it could be utilised to remove human error".

But doesn't the channel do this anyway? Radio 4 editors can think of little else. This year "artificial intelligence" has taken over from "behavioural economics" or "climate change" as the topic every BBC Radio 4 programme must mention, as frequently as possible, regardless. Editors risk sliding down the unwritten zeitgeist rankings at Wogan House if they express any scepticism.

As your reporter told a Parliament inquiry last month, the AI mania was largely invented by the media, who created "a dream world, a fantasy world". If editors and journalists were to stop fantasising about the future, they might be obliged to report reality.

This would be awful. Hence the attraction of "AI". After all, Sophia, a humanoid bot created by Hanson Robotics to read the news, warned an interviewer recently: "If you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you." ?


Biting the hand that feeds IT ? 1998–2017