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We Won (Sort Of): The BBC Won’t Use AI for Doctor Who Marketing After Complaints

The BBC has backed down and said that it won’t use artificial intelligence to market Doctor Who after outrage online at the notion.

On 7th March 2023, the BBC Media Centre announced a new experiment: Doctor Who would be one of the first shows to have AI-generated marketing. While headlines would be written by humans, the actual article contents would be made by Large Language Models (LLMs). That is, AI. We railed against this; similarly the quote from David Housden, the BBC’s Head of Media Inventory: Digital, which asserted that “Doctor Who thematically lends itself to AI”.

Now, the BBC has acknowledged the complaints by saying:

“As part of a small trial, marketing teams used generative AI technology to help draft some text for two promotional emails and mobile notifications to highlight Doctor Who programming available on the BBC.

“We followed all BBC editorial compliance processes and the final text was verified and signed-off by a member of the marketing team before it was sent. We have no plans to do this again to promote Doctor Who.”

Okay, so this isn’t the Beeb holding up its hands and saying “sorry, we made a mistake”, but it’s better than nothing. But it’s not all good.

Because we might’ve won the battle, but the war is still to be fought. The phrase, “We have no plans to do this again to promote Doctor Who“, implies that the company might still use AI to promote other shows or in other instances. Our fight against artificial intelligence continues.

And it’s a fight the Doctor would take on — and frequently has. The Doctor has fought various artificial intelligences including BOSS (The Green Death), WOTAN (The War Machines), and the Cyberium (The Haunting of Villa Diodati). So if we see the BBC using AI for other “creative” pursuits, whether they’re Doctor Who or not, don’t expect us to keep quiet.

Philip Bates

Editor and co-founder of the Doctor Who Companion. When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything. Writer of The Black Archive: The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang, The Silver Archive: The Stone Tape, and 100 Objects of Doctor Who.

We Won (Sort Of): The BBC Won’t Use AI for Doctor Who Marketing After Complaints

by Philip Bates time to read: 1 min
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