Can artificial intelligence replace radio DJs? No, it’s not enough to fake a floor east sound

IYesterday was Halloween, and someone must have said AI was coming to steal our jobs three times in the mirror, because an AI version of Fleur East appeared to present her breakfast show on Hits Radio. Well, he didn’t appear because, as AI Fleur kept reminding us, he doesn’t have a body. But he could talk, and he talked for four hours at many shows. AI Fleur introduced songs (well, he gave the names and who sang them), badmouthed his co-hosts James and Matt, and culminated in him declaring that the real East Fleur never needed to There is no return. Because I’m the most affordable version of Flora you’ve ever met.

What does an artificial intelligence radio host sound like? Well, basically how you might imagine: like a person without a soul. At first, Flora’s AI seems very real, but you soon wonder why she’s talking like a wind-up clock, all her sentences spoken in the same tone, as if she’s not quite sure when they’ll end. It was a bit like how people talk when they do voiceovers for commercials and are stuck in a dark room all day while someone with more personality shouts! From behind a glass screen, it confuses them about who they are.

Fleur East appeared the fun, social and human version Good morning Britain Tell Richard Madeley and Kate Garraway why he’s letting a robot steal his job for the morning. He explained that it was a bit of fun. The spooky one-day trick was clever, designed to tap into one of our greatest contemporary fears: the dire consequences of artificial intelligence for humanity and the job market. But it is also designed to point out the inadequacy of these artificial intelligence alternatives. East explained to Madley and Garraway that there was no alternative. He can’t take part in a joke, he can’t laugh. (Whoever read the room, a slightly haunted model offered her thoughts: I think AI is going to take over the world, I really do.)

Ultimately, the stunt was a reminder of the intimate magic of radio, the way a listener never has a one-way relationship with the show they’re listening to. Radios, unlike AI robots, aren’t just electrical devices that you turn on and off. When AI Flora said, I’d love to hear from you today!, I couldn’t imagine anything more depressing than texting a robotic radio host. It reminded me of one night a few months ago when I turned on Absolute Radio. Someone had texted asking for advice on dinner that night, and the hosts were taking the request very seriously, in between telling Tutu to Africa. The quirks, worries, joys and frustrations we all feel are the lifeblood of radio, whether it’s Robbie Soge or Chris Sutton berating callers about Manchester United’s score on Five Lives. Football phone 606 inor Emma Barnett talking to Colin Rooney about how she feels about the term Wag on women’s watch

You can turn on a radio at any moment and hear a human story in less than five minutes. I ran into another one this morning when I put five live on while making a cup of tea. Nicky Campbell was speaking to callers about this week’s Covid inquiry, where we learned that Boris Johnson was urging the elderly to accept their fate during the pandemic, according to the diaries of former chief scientist Sir Patrick Vallance. A man who worked in the ICU during Covid called Campbell and said, “I’ve seen a lot of people die.” I still see a psychologist. He explained that he was in PPE and watched the body bags go out the door. He spoke of his pride in his colleagues and his guilt at not being able to save more people. He didn’t need to say much of what he had to say about Johnson, Cummings, and others. Campbell, listening, was audibly moved. The exchange was short and devastating, heartbreaking and infuriating. You can’t get that with a robotic radio host.

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