AI version of sportscaster Al Michaels will deliver custom Olympic recaps

AI version of sportscaster Al Michaels will deliver custom Olympic recaps
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Television broadcaster Al Michaels looks on prior to the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium.

Ahead of the 2024 Olympics in Paris, NBC has announced that an AI version of sportscaster Al Michaels will deliver personalized recaps to Peacock users.

These 10-minute daily updates, conducted in Michaels’ voice, require just a few details for customization: on Peacock, users need to submit their names and select up to three types of sports they want to hear more about.

The voice was trained based on Michaels’ extensive repertoire of work while at NBC, and the AI experience was built in-house by Peacock’s “team of engineers, product managers and data scientists.” NBCUniversal’s John Jelley said the team developed a process to “integrate, optimize and validate state-of-the-art large language model and voice synthesis technology.”

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The product will be available on Peacock’s website, iOS, and iPad apps. Peacock has vowed that a team of editors “will review all content, including audio and clips, for quality assurance and accuracy before recaps are made available to users.” Nearly 7 million clips can be created over the course of the Olympics, says NBC.

Media outlets caught an early demo of the product. According to Vulture, “The performance of Michaels’s synthezoid voice left much to be desired.” Defector, meanwhile, says, “The resulting technology seems … pretty fucking AI, honestly. It sounds strikingly like Al Michaels without really quite seeming like Al Michaels; it is accurate, but not right.”

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Michaels said he was initially “very skeptical” of the proposal, but was ultimately blown away by the technology: “Frankly, it was astonishing. It was amazing,” he told Vanity Fair. “And it was a little bit frightening. It was not only close, it was almost 2 percent off perfect. I’m thinking, Whoa.”

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