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BBC reports new foray into AI and machine learning

BBC News wants to bring new, improved services to online content using artificial intelligence.

By April Slattery

BBC has tapped into the digital age as it uses artificial intelligence technology to create a better user experience for customers.

The popular broadcasting company has embarked on a five year contract with eight universities across the UK to create a personalised experience for users, using digital technology and machine learning.

Both parties of the venture will take BBC’s existing consumer and content data and use machine learning and AI to get a better understanding of audience needs, why they choose BBC’s content and why it benefits them.

With this information, the technology experts in the partnership will develop new ways of connecting with audiences to better entertain them.

BBC’s newly formed partnerships aim to provide a more personal BBC experience to consumers, to inform, educate and entertain views in completely new ways than ever before.

BBC reports new foray into AI and machine learning

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Universities participating in the partnership include the University of Manchester, Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London.

Samantha Chadwick, Head of Partnerships, BBC Research and Development, said: “Machine learning is going to play an increasingly important role in the world. Together with our partners and funding bodies, we want to apply these advances in data science to the media industry, and to make a real difference to people’s lives.”

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Additionally, BBC partnership will also stretch to collaborating with media and technology organisations around Europe as well as the UK with an audience led focus.

The aim is to make an impact on the audience, to understand them, understand content being produced, make a personalised experience and design future content for audience experience.

Matthew Postgate, the BBC’s Chief Technology and Product Officer, said: “The BBC has always been at its best when it combines creativity with technology. As we reinvent the BBC, we can see the opportunities that data and machine learning are opening up for us, our creative talent and our audiences.

BBC has already demonstrated its interest in taking the organisation into the next digital age after releasing its own virtual reality app earlier this year. The app is designed for iOS and Android devices that give users hours of content to watch with VR headsets, such as Planet Earth II.

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In addition to developing machine learning and AI within BBC’s operating systems, the broadcaster looks to improve the skills of its workforce by placing emphasis on the use of data.

Training for employees will include specifically tailored courses on a variety of levels of ability. Courses will include MSc Data Science apprenticeships, and secondments between the BBC and all the research partners.

Postgate said: “This partnership will help us break new ground and ensure we continue giving audiences the very best in public service broadcasting well into the future.”

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