GMA Network’s (creepy) AI sportscasters miss their debut at NCAA Season 99 opening

The AIs gained thousands of haters when they were announced.

A day before NCAA Season 99’s opening ceremony, many Filipinos rejected GMA Network’s move to assign Artificial Intelligence (AI)-generated sportscasters Maia and Marco to cover the event. During the ceremony yesterday, Sept. 24, the network announced a different roster of actual human courtside reporters.

Since the groundbreaking, internet-breaking language model ChatGPT drastically changed the broad landscape of artificial intelligence (AI) in the past year, the world—individuals, businesses, academic institutions and governments—has been trying to figure out how to leverage the technology. 

Some of the most used AI-powered tools in time of content generation are image, video and audio generation, the same technology that enabled GMA to create the sportscasters.

Would the day come when news personalities like Mel Tiangco, Jessica Soho and Karen Davila are replaced by AI news anchors?

The technology is innovative by and of itself. However, revolutionizing a certain practice or industry has never been simple or easy. There are a lot of things to consider, ethics and credibility being the most important in news reporting.

With low trust in mainstream media and the alarming vulnerability of Filipinos to misinformation, the news network’s “bold move” to introduce the country’s first AI media personalities seems to be premature. Not to mention, AI has been widely used for entertainment and to spread false information too.

PBA players Javee Mocon and Rey Chan Nambatac express their dismay over GMA News’ comment section.

As opposed to GMA’s press release, which explains that the innovation “aligns with [their] mission to serve all communities within the nation and promote inclusivity in [their] reporting,” a few users noted that “there are far more talented people out there that can perfectly fit this job.”

This has been another important concern, not only in the Philippines, but across the globe: which jobs will AI take over soonest? 

PBA rising stars Javee Mocon and Rey Nambatac, who sometimes double as NCAA commentators, also made a remark about losing their side hustle. “Wala na tayong trabaho pare (we no longer have a job),” said Mocon.

In theory, robots may be most incompatible with newscasting of any form. For instance, a sportscaster may draw their comments from experience (for former professional players), personal observations and interaction with players, interviews and press conferences, their partner’s remarks, among others.

A user argued, “Sports are heavily driven by passion, excitement, and human drama. An AI might lack the ability to convey the emotional highs and lows of a game, reducing viewer engagement.”

AI has also been used heavily in writing, which is an important aspect in news reporting. “Wow. What a way to indirectly discourage Mass Communication students,” said one user.

Argyll Geducos, a senior reporter at Manila Bulletin and special lecturer at Adamson University, said in his post, “Sure, it’s innovative, but we have far too many talented, dedicated, and passionate college students for this job–and this may have just effectively discouraged them. I sure do hope not.”

Would the day come when news personalities like Mel Tiangco, Jessica Soho and Karen Davila are replaced by AI news anchors? If media giants like GMA Network continue down this path, we may find out soon enough.

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