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Are ‘Maia and Marco’ sportscasters the tipping point for mainstream AI in the Philippines?

For months, I wondered what the tipping point would be for a mainstream commentary on AI in local shores. Over the weekend, the point has indeed tipped – GMA announced Maia and Marco, the Philippines’ first AI sportscasters.

I won’t spend time talking about the backlash, as this is expected from any new technology that makes mainstream waves. It was the same for social media when Facebook became a hit (“why are you sharing your thoughts to everyone?”) to NFTs (“you’re destroying the environment!”), and now, AI (“they took our jobs!”).

For what it’s worth, I’ve been dabbling with the concept of AI in the newsroom setting for years. ChatGPT proved the theory that you could streamline a process where certain types of news can be automated. Sports scores, stock market ticker, the weather — these were the use cases I had in mind to automate content, giving the editor and content producer more time to focus on thought provoking commentary. In the case of the AI sportscasters, where color commentary and personality are king, they just look … dead? But also to be fair, if this was shown to me a decade ago, I would have been completely fooled if I saw them on TV – they do look real, albeit in need of a coffee fix. GMA News threw the first punch into the AI ring, and as such they’re getting punched back. But it had to happen. That’s how technology works. As Thanos said, “I am inevitable.” The AI snap has begun.

The AI Yin and Yang

This week, I’ll be doing a deep dive into the two sides of AI — from the point of view of people who have lost their jobs because of it, but also a counterpoint, which is the inevitability of AI in productivity. It’s going to get more and more ubiquitous as Microsoft just announced Co-Pilot integration into Office 365, which means your Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Teams will all have a superpowered (and less annoying) Clippy helping you out.

Now that we have a mainstream reaction to AI being introduced as a human replacement, what will happen next is a review of how AI can and should be used in the corporate setting. Down the line, AI will also face regulations as the Philippines looks to other countries to see what measures they take to keep humanity at the center of it all and really improve lives. Social media made a lasting and immutable impact to society — for good and for bad. AI will do the same.