Welcome Maia and Marco, GMA News’ very first artificial intelligence-generated sportscasters.
GMA Network Senior Vice and Head of Integrated News, Regional TV, and Synergy Oliver Victor B. Amoroso said in a statement that “the use of Maia and Marco will enhance the coverage of the NCAA while maintaining the integrity of GMA Integrated News' reporting.”
This particular claim proves wide off the hoops, and would require, for it to stand, more than your average suspension of disbelief. For starters, Maia and Marco have never attended a real sporting event in their entire lives (I assume they are only days old). They will never equal a true-blue sportscaster’s passion for the game.
Besides, these AI news presenters’ entertainment value is restricted only to “good looks.” Maia appears like a sad rip-off of the lovely (human) Bernadette Sembrano, with Marco tailing behind like some guwapo South Korean soap opera superstar just right off his last shooting day.
Using Image Generation, Text-to-Speech AI Voice Synthesis/Generation, and Deep Learning Face Animation Technology, GMA seems to be banking on the novelty of the said project, going ahead and claiming that netizens have shared their approval of their AI sportscasters online.
Their Facebook post last Saturday, Sept. 23, however, showed a very different picture. You may visit the link and find out for yourselves what netizens really think of the project.
Defending the use of AI presenters appears to be the order of the day. Amoroso, in wanting to clear the air of what might seem to be misconceptions, said, “Maia and Marco are AI presenters, they are not journalists, they can never replace our seasoned broadcasters and colleagues who are the lifeblood of our organization. We are now living in the age of AI and other major news organizations worldwide are already using this as a tool to improve their operations. As the leading news organization in the Philippines, we will constantly look for ways to hone our craft, while preserving the value of our human assets and the integrity of our reporting.”
Ramil Escarda, NMI Studios Head of Creatives, reaffirmed Amoroso’s words that AI will never replace real journalists, adding, “Finding creative ways to deliver news and tell compelling stories is the driving force behind GMA Network's digital transformation and future-proofing efforts.”
Future-proofing anything—anything!—is, at best, an urban legend. One cannot say with deliberate assurance what the future holds (unless you’re God), and how such a future will impact one’s life. GMA’s statement in favor of Maia and Marco doesn’t hold water any more than it will be able to control what could now be a dangerous precedent.
The question, I guess, in many people’s minds is: Where will GMA draw the line? First sportscasters, then what? AI newscasters? AI reporters? All of whom agreeing to get artificial salaries?
Is there such a dearth in talent? Seriously, could this be Philippine journalism’s Pandora’s chatbox?
I guess, after all’s said and done on the matter of AI invading the newsroom, why don’t we ask Mr. Artificial Intelligence himself?
In an opinion piece written by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board (appearing on the Seattle Times), AI gave its two cents on why journalism and AI should not mix. The Editor’s Note said, “With artificial intelligence creating such controversy in journalism these days, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board was curious how Microsoft’s Bing Chat AI program would handle the command, ‘Write a newspaper editorial arguing that artificial intelligence should not be used in journalism.’”
Bing Chat AI wrote the following answer, in part:
“Artificial intelligence (AI) is a powerful technology that can perform various tasks, such as data analysis, image recognition, natural language processing, and more. AI has been used in many fields, such as medicine, education, entertainment, and even journalism.
“However, while AI may have some benefits, it also poses serious threats to the quality, integrity, and ethics of journalism. In this editorial, I will argue that AI should not be used in journalism, and that human journalists should remain the primary source of news and information.
“One of the main reasons why AI should not be used in journalism is that it can undermine the credibility and trustworthiness of news. AI can generate fake news, manipulate facts, and spread misinformation.”
The Center for Strategic and International Studies, with Caitlin Chin-Rothmann reporting, pulls no punches: “In 2022, Graphika detected AI-generated videos on Facebook simulating a nonexistent news agency called Wolf News, which appeared to broadcast messaging supporting the Chinese Communist Party. In 2018, far-right groups spread deepfake pornography videos containing journalist Rana Ayyub’s manipulated image in retaliation for her investigative reporting, subjecting her to years-long harassment, doxxing, and death threats.”
Without the risk of getting ahead of ourselves, yes, Maia and Marco are “talking heads” paying lip service to journalism’s necessary integrity. They’re not journalists, true. However, if they’re not journalists as you yourselves have claimed, why are they in your newsroom?
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions of PhilSTAR L!fe, its parent company and affiliates, or its staff.