A hot potato: It seems that the type of jobs at risk of being lost to AI also includes the unlikely profession of radio DJ. A radio station in Portland is now broadcasting an artificial intelligence for five hours every day, reading generated scripts based on trending news and even interacting with listeners. Unsurprisingly, it hasn't been well received by everyone.
KBFF, Live 95.5 put AI Ashely on the air last week, making it the world's first radio station with an AI DJ, according to the company. The system, which will be broadcasting between 10 am and 3 pm, is a cloned version of midday host Ashley Elzinga – its voice is an almost exact replica of the real DJ.
TechCrunch writes that AI Ashley is powered by Futuri Media's RadioGPT, a tool that uses OpenAI's GPT-4 large language model to generate a script based on news from 250,000 digital outlets and social media platforms that it reads in a synthetic voice.
We made history as the world's first radio station with an AI DJ! Our midday host Ashley has become AI Ashley! We can't wait for you to meet Ashley, the world's first artificially intelligent DJ. As to the intelligence of our other DJ's…we'll save that for another post ;) pic.twitter.com/CtlMhYU0IO– Live 95.5 (@live955) June 13, 2023
The first question people have asked is whether the human Ashley is losing her job to an AI version of herself. The radio station said it isn't fully replacing "traditional Ashley," though that still doesn't sound too reassuring for other DJs.
"It's a hybrid situation where we'll have traditional Ashley on during some segments, and we'll have AI Ashley on during other segments," Phil Becker, Alpha Media EVP of Content, told TechCrunch. "In an instance where AI Ashley would be broadcasting, the traditional Ashley might be doing something in the community, managing social posts or working on digital assets or the other elements that come with the job."
The real Ashley tweeted some clips of the AI speaking and interacting with a listener who won a competition. The latter example is as impressive as it is worrying, especially as Alpha Media owns more than 200 radio stations across the US.
Falling listener numbers and rising costs have seen radio stations make layoffs and turn to tech such as AI. Becker emphasized that Alpha Media isn't using AI Ashley to save costs – the real Ashley's salary is not changing.
For all the spin being put on AI Ashley, it's hard to find any positive comments from the public. The most obvious danger from a technical point of view is the AI hallucinating and reading out fake information, though Becker claims there will be human moderators reviewing and editing the content before it's read out on the air.
I get why a company would want to replace a human they pay wages to with AI they don't, but why would any listener anywhere prefer this for literally any reason?– local yokel (@meh_just_a_guy) June 13, 2023
Real DJs or nothing.
Then there's the fact that this looks like yet another industry in which AI is going replace humans. "You have totally disrespected the radio profession. You made history for all the wrong reasons," wrote DJ Gene Valaitis. There are plenty of other tweets noting the likely job losses and how it could further harm radio's fading popularity.