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Artificial Intelligence; The Discussion Continues

This past week Fred Jacobs of Jacobs Media and I joined Loyd Ford on his podcast The Encouragers; The Radio Rally podcast. The topic was Artificial Intelligence. The episode is titled “Chat GPT & The A.I. Century.” Fred, Loyd and I agreed, almost immediately, that none of us knows where A.I. is going to go. No one does. It’s all speculation. There are some who are embracing AI and enthusiastic about it and many naysayers. Which is no different than anything that’s arrived on the scene from the invention of the wheel to today. Those things that resonate last … at least for the foreseeable future. A.I. is resonating.

What seems to be most important for right now is that our industry’s thought leaders keep an open mind to new platforms. This is a media business that has been continually morphing and evolving for over 100 years. Our leaders have to be thoughtful, anticipatory and cautious. Thoughtful as to what are the best and most beneficial uses of AI for our business. Anticipatory in regard to future uses of Artificial Intelligence. Cautious in regard to crossing legal lines pertaining to copyright, ownership, Name Image and Likeness (NIL), as an example of just a few of those things to be considered. Many businesses are formulating what their position on A.I. will be and that’s an important part of the process. A.I. is being addressed in many conference rooms and among a variety of Leadership Teams.

Artificial Intelligence isn’t going to go away. Do you remember when Blockbuster was the number one movie rental business in America? Netflix came along with an idea to mail DVD’s to your home. They evolved into a subscription streaming service. Blockbuster went out of business. Visit the Blockbuster website. Their logo appears on the screen and under it are the words “We Are Working on Rewinding Your Movie.” No one wants to be Block Buster.

The challenge for many is that the speed of change is ever increasing. Especially given mechanical intelligence and machine learning. It’s tough to keep up with as it’s an everchanging product. During the podcast, Loyd acknowledged that “this is a fast-spreading technology. Faster than anything we’ve seen since 2007.” Fred was quick to point out that the difference with this new technology is that we’re looking at societal changes. He underscored that we’ve not faced that with other technological changes.

There will likely be at least two streams that media will follow. Possibly even interchangeably. Consider that Vinyl is seeing a resurgence and growing because of the authenticity it presents as it provides better audio quality. This is happening during a time when streaming is entering the mature phase of the products lifecycle. One is original and seen as genuine while the other is seen as a duplication. Polyester is still sold as are fabrics made of genuine fibers. Real fabrics are authentic. Some people like polyester and some people don’t. That’s the world that we’re living in. Authenticity doesn’t replace AI nor will AI replace authenticity. Two different streams and room for both.

There are broadcasters whose approach is for their station to be 100% Live & Local. There are many who do not buy into that approach. There are two different streams here, too. Room for both. There are many ways to approach the “what” and “how” regarding the use of AI when it comes to content. It may be on-air, it may be behind the scenes, it may replace a team member, and it may enable your business to grow by adding A.I. Experts to your team.

AI magnifies and mirrors a slice of society. There are bad people in the world and AI has been used and will be used for scams. Much like the social media and texting scams many of us deal with daily. There’s the story of the Arizona mother who was just on Capitol Hill, sharing a story of how her daughter’s voice was recreated using AI to plead for ransom money. It’s a parent’s nightmare. Scams like this will continue to be used until a digital footprint is created, which it will be, that enables the AI scam to be tracked down and the perpetrator captured. Sidenote; in this case AT&T did put a trace on the victims phone.

There’s also the creative side of Artificial Intelligence. Paul McCartney has announced that a new Beatles song is coming that will use AI John Lennon. To be fair, it’s not a totally AI version of John Lennon’s voice that we’ll hear, but audio from a previously unreleased Beatles tune that AI has cleaned-up and restored the vocals to a place where McCartney said it was possible to mix the track cleanly as if they were recorded fresh for this purpose. Sir Paul has, in my opinion, the right attitude about AI. He is reported to have said “It’s kind of scary, but exciting because it’s the future. We’ll just have to see where that leads." Cautiously.

I advise against drawing a line in the sand against AI. There is still too much that’s unknown. We live in a world where Broadcaster’s proclaimed that “national talent will never beat local talent.” Then Howard Stern did. People said “voice tracking will never beat a live talent” and there are examples where it has. It’s too soon to reject the use of A.I. out of hand. There will always be time for that.

The Encouragers; The Radio Rally podcast hosted by Loyd Ford is available wherever you hear your favorite podcasts. The episode is titled “Chat GPT & The A.I. Century.”

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