Our lens on: Artificial Intelligence

3 September 2018

If a robot told you “relax, it’s going to be fine”, would you believe it? This is the question we’re faced with in BBC’s teaser trailer for their upcoming feature.

This elusive advert for BBC’s AI venture immediately captured my attention. As an AI novice, my train of thought went straight to future robots performing lifesaving operations, not realising how the innovative learner already effects my everyday life. From my home assistant acting as my personal DJ, to my viewing schedule set by Netflix recommendations, I started to realise the positive and subtle impact AI and machine learning already has on my life.

BBC 4.1 is an intriguing experiment, which will hopefully give us access to programming that otherwise would have been out of our reach, educate us on AI in modern society and the benefits it can offer, and bring the conversation to life.

Always keen to enter into a good discussion, I asked the office for their thoughts:


“Most of the “innovations” in AI I’ve seen consist of creating a problem for AI to solve, rather than AI solving a problem e.g. I saw a band play a couple of weeks ago who did part of their set using MIDI –triggered robot instruments (a self-playing xylophone etc.) It was cute, but we don’t need a MIDI- triggered robot xylophone, we can do that better and easier ourselves. Not AI, but a similar issue.”


“I think I’ve avoided AI being someone who loves human contact and, as I thought it, a personal touch, as my mind always jumps to ‘will robots take away jobs?, change our in-person interactions on the high street? etc.’. After watching this trailer and looking into the subject more, I’m shocked at just how much I sing the praises of machine learning and its ability to personalise my experience as a shopper and valued customer…I just didn’t know it!”

We also asked our panellists for their opinions to see whether they were as fascinated as our researchers.

“Sounds interesting and quite a bold move. Something no other channel has done”

 “It fits with some of their scientific programming over the years (things like Horizon) and in ways I can understand them trying it but it also scares me and I wouldn’t want it to be the ‘norm’”

“I saw an advert for this on the BBC and it was intriguing, I don’t know exactly how it’s going to work but it was interesting.  It shows that the BBC isn’t staid and stuck in the past, it’s forward-looking and at the cutting edge.”

The BBC feature will hopefully build our trust, open our eyes to what AI is and give us insight into how AI and machine learning might impact the future of the broadcasting industry. As consumers we’ve come to expect personalised services and constant recommendations, allowing us to live our lives hassle free with the perfect song always next on the playlist. Therefore, it seems fitting that the BBC are giving AI the opportunity to take the reigns and shape the content in order to provide a unique viewing experience.

Reference sites: https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2018/bbc-four-ai

Written by: Phoebe Casey-Miller and Amy Wilde

Quotes are taken from an open question posed to our in-house online panel, Panelbase, via our mini-poll system. The question asked BBC have recently announced two nights of experimental programming, BBC 4.1 AI TV, featuring artificial intelligence generated programming and programmes exploring AI. What do you think about BBC’s artificial intelligence experiment?’