AI Effects in the "Real" World

Even the jocks get it!

I listen to a lot of sports radio while driving. Hey, it’s Boston and I’m a fan of, or at least enjoy, most of our teams (never quite got baseball). And like anyone who spends any time reading just about anything in tech-related reporting or posting, I see AI stuff daily. So found it interesting when these worlds collided recently.

I’ll start off by noting I’m rather skeptical about “AI”, or LLMs to more accurately name the current hyped tech. Sure, there may be reasonable uses for it, but there are tons of concerns about the ethics of how training data is acquired, as well as the ethics of replacing human creativity with statistical models. And as I found out during a couple of commutes, these concerns go beyond the tech and political landscapes.

The first time this popped up was during a talk about a pretty common topic on the station I listen to (98.5 The Sports Hub), the (over)use of sports analytics, especially in baseball and, for us Bostonians, especially around the Red Sox. Aside from the occasional commercial during the NFL season for IBM Watson or AWS, I’m not that up on the state of the art of sports analytics, but the point they were making applies wether it’s AI based or just glorified Excel spresheet-level statistics, and that’s how the analytics are removing the human factors from the game. This isn’t a new observation from the radio guys, but for some reason this time it hit me how this is the same concern as human creativity being replaced by soulless “AI”-generated content, and how the games, just as with venues that use AI content, become lesser for it.

The second time this popped up was during the early morning show on the same station. The hosts for that one, Toucher and Hardy, aren’t particularly serious so it was interesting that this popped up in their show. They were talking about how Al Michaels has licensed his voice for recreating via AI to be used this summer for Olympics commentary. As announcers they were rather incensed by it, espeically given the recent major entertainment industry strikes that were in part about AI use in the industry. In Michaels’ case it’s legally aboveboard, as he entered into a contract for it, but it left a bad impression with the showhosts and others, including myself.

I will say it’s encouraging to see this issues come up in areas outside the tech, business, and political spheres. Fingers crossed for more such discourse!

Written on July 4, 2024