Bengaluru start-up makes AI information bulletin, however guarantees media jobs are protected. For now

Illustration: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint
Illustration: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint


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New Delhi: If a synthetic intelligence (AI) programme can manipulate file footage of TV newscasters to concern contemporary broadcasts, does it threaten jobs in an trade where revenue is already a battle?

Ashray Malhotra, the CEO of Bengaluru-based start-up Rephrase.ai, which has made a programme able to doing this, doesn’t suppose the menace is instant. But he gained’t write off the prospect altogether.

“I don’t think that’s happening in the next two years for sure. Depending on the AI progress after that, I don’t know. The way I see it right now, I don’t think we are anywhere close to that point,” Malhotra added.

Rephrase.ai, based in 2018, offered a preview to their product final month, once they made a video to announce receiving $1.5 million in seed funding, which is early funding in a rising enterprise, often in exchange for an equity stake. Posted on Twitter, the video confirmed a information presenter relaying “breaking news” of the funding.

Speaking to ThePrint, Malhotra mentioned the girl within the video is a “real person” with whom they filmed some inventory footage.

“This person was a real person, who we recorded in a studio for 10 minutes speaking some very different text… Now that we have a machine learning model on the platform, we can create different videos of her speaking any new text, with just the textual input, we don’t need to film her again and again,” he added.

At the guts of the video is an engine that may predict lip and facial motion of a human face — so one video of a human being will be manipulated to say absolutely anything. It’s the results of an 18-month pursuit by Malhotra and fellow Rephrase.ai cofounders Nisheeth Lahoti and Shivam Mangla.  

Rephrase.ai isn’t the primary firm to introduce such a software program. The Chinese information company Xinhua, in partnership with search engine Sogou, introduced the same experiment in 2018. Modelled on an actual information anchor, their AI newscaster boasts about working 24×7 without claiming overtime

And AI is being utilized by companies like AP and Bloomberg to produce news copy. In this AI-written news piece published by The Guardian, the robotic writer even sought to handle human considerations in regards to the expertise.   

With the proliferation of AI in journalism stoking considerations in regards to the employment prospects of human beings, backers of the expertise say the concept just isn’t a lot to interchange people as help them. 

Talking in regards to the potential of AI-powered newscasters, specialists advised ThePrint that they’re unlikely to play the function of human newsreaders, who typically pepper broadcasts with light-hearted banter and humour that make bulletins fulfilling.   


Also Read: How AI is helping reopen factory floors safely in a pandemic


Film-making final intention of Rephrase.ai

Through a showcase by Malhotra, ThePrint learnt how the Rephrase course of works. Malhotra used a pc to generate a video of a human mannequin saying, “Hi, I’m not going to lose my job to AI”, and it took all of seven minutes.

As issues stand, Rephrase.ai is simply able to making easier movies that manipulate a human face, and the start-up markets its product to gross sales and advertising shoppers who need to ship personalised movies to potential shoppers.  

According to Malhotra, who says their shoppers are based in India and the US, it is a market price a “couple of billion dollars” a yr. 

Malhotra didn’t want to disclose the variety of shoppers they’ve or how a lot their product prices, however mentioned the cost is by the minute. Some estimates on the Rephrase.ai web site show the price for 10 generic movies as $30 (approx. Rs 2,200), and $0.2-0.5 (Rs 15-37) per video e mail.

The course of begins with a consumer going to the Rephrase.ai web site, selecting a required emblem, background music, and particular results and many others. A background have to be chosen as nicely, which will be from the corporate’s inventory photos or one thing the client suggests.

Then, one should select a human mannequin from a big selection of choices — male, feminine, in informal or formal apparel, and Indian and American (totally different ethnicities).

“The thing that sets us apart from everybody else in the world is the ability to add real human characters,” mentioned Malhotra.

Then a voice have to be chosen. The platform helps round 30 languages, together with Russian, Arabic, and Chinese Mandarin. Hindi is offered, however wasn’t loaded on the platform as a result of there hasn’t been a lot demand, mentioned Malhotra.

The subsequent step includes importing the script textual content — within the case of the showcase, this was, “Hi, I’m not going to lose my job to AI.” 

Malhotra mentioned they’re making an attempt to contract a weeks-long course of — mannequin auditions, discovering a cinematographer, renting a studio, doing the shoot — “into a matter of a few minutes”.

The firm’s remaining intention is to make the creation of such movies so easy {that a} full-fledged movie will be computer-generated.

“I don’t see this eliminating anybody’s job in the film industry anytime soon,” he mentioned. “Our long-term vision is to not just constrain ourselves into (making videos featuring) front faces, but actually be able to, in some sense, automate an entire Hollywood-level film with just text.”

Malhotra added that they’re conscious of the potential for misuse with the expertise, which has similarities in idea to deepfakes.

“It’s a powerful technology,” he mentioned, including that it has “the ability to make real human characters speak different text at scale”.

“We want to make sure it (the product) does not fall in the wrong hands, which is why we only limit access to registered businesses. And we sign fairly strong ethics agreements with every single (one) of our customers,” he added.

Malhotra mentioned Rephrase doesn’t work with political events and doesn’t see that altering anytime quickly. Rephrase’s ethics coverage forbids “the use of our technology as a medium for political propaganda or offensive content”. 

“We will never allow deepfakes or content that impersonates well-known individuals, including videos with politicians or celebrities for satirical purposes,” it adds.


Also Read: 12 per cent of elite AI researchers come from India but almost none work here, says data


Journalism jobs ‘safe’

Experts in journalism and AI really feel the expertise can automate jobs within the area of stories media, however not change all human journalists.

Raju Narisetti, a former Managing Editor, Digital, for The Wall Street Journal, and founding father of India’s Mint enterprise information publication, mentioned there “is little doubt that AI and machine learning (ML) can improve, augment and enhance productivity, efficiency and accuracy in news and information gathering, understanding and dissemination”. 

“Journalism organisations such as Associated Press (AP), Bloomberg, Reuters and Dow Jones, the classic ‘wire services’ — where the balance between speed and accuracy is a critical success factor — have been using both AI and ML for many years now in a variety of ways,” he added.

“There is already evidence that some jobs, especially repetitive jobs or dangerous — to humans — jobs, as well as jobs that could be done with not a lot of changing variables can be replaced by AI,” he mentioned. However, he added {that a} “lot of what journalists do does not automatically fall in this category so the threat of wholesale replacement is still low”. 

“But it is already possible to smartly manage a news website’s homepage with AI and ML, reducing the number of people who need to manually oversee the site, for example,” he mentioned.

The preface to a 2019 survey on the influence of AI on journalism, backed by Google News Initiative and Polis, a journalism thinktank based mostly on the London School of Economics and Political Science, additionally dominated out such a situation. “No, the robots are not going to take over journalism. Yes, the machines might soon be able to do much routine journalism labour,” it acknowledged.

Professor Charlie Beckett, founding director of Polis and the writer of the preface quote above, mentioned, “It’s clearly possible to automate the job of a news presenter.”

He was responding to queries from ThePrint, which shared with Beckett a tweet hyperlink to the Rephrase.ai video. 

However, Beckett mentioned he didn’t “actually see much potential for creating news presenters beyond some basic use cases in news”. 

“As news in general becomes more automated, there will be an added premium for human qualities such as humour, empathy, creativity and personality, especially in broadcast news presentation,” he added. “We are happy to get news headlines and even bulletins through automated services such as Alexa but broadcasting is still primarily a human-to-human activity. I can imagine far more use cases in corporate communications, marketing and basic functional information such as in public transportation.”

Malhotra provided the same evaluation. “So, the way I look at AI is that it eliminates the most basic fundamental automatable jobs,” he mentioned.


Also Read: This is how AI will change how radiologists work


 

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