back to article 'Personalised BBC' can algorithmically pander to your prejudices

Rejoice! The BBC boffins can customise their broadcasts to suit your prejudices. The “Visual Perceptive Media” project invites us to “imagine a world where the narrative, background music, colour grading and general feel of a drama is shaped in real time to suit your personality” – and will even tweak the output to “fit your …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Sounds like a good thing...

    ...if it can control the ratio of content to padding in Horizon etc.

    1. Efros

      Re: Sounds like a good thing...

      I wonder if it can be tuned to detect "Personal Journey" in any documentary intro, and if it can it should be able to link through to the scriptwriters chair and zap 'em.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like a good thing...

      Wouldn't that turn most BBC science TV into a tweet?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds like a bad thing...

      BBV TV - the TV that watches you.

      Now where have we heard that before?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    personal data profile of the user from a database of their viewing habits

    They forgot to add the old chestnut about how they fully understand the importance of user privacy issue and how they apply the most stringent technological means to ensure the data remains safe. Sigh...



  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brilliant idea, I can't wait for midgets wrestling in Eastenders or Slipknot on songs of praise.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Thirdly, the BBC surrenders all of its moral authority"

    In a post-Saville world does the BBC HAVE any moral authority?

    1. rh587

      "In a post-Saville world does the BBC HAVE any moral authority?"

      The BBC employs over 20,000 people, with tens of thousands more indirectly employed via production companies, as freelance professionals, etc.

      You'll forgive me if I decline to lump all of them (along with my uni mate who does incredible things with the Natural History unit) in with the champagne-swilling management of the 1970s-80s who turned a blind eye to god knows what

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > the champagne-swilling management of the 1970s-80s who turned a blind eye to god knows what

        Well, not just God¹. By now most of us know exactly what they turned a blind eye to. :-(

        ¹ By values of God inclusive of the null set.

  5. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    I've already got Facebook

    1. Chika

      That's nice, dear.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Oh, Hell! Just three words, and I nearly died laughing!

  6. Fraggle850

    Excellent and thought provoking article

    What place does the BBC have in a world where we are all retreating into self-referential silos? The Internet does seem to be promoting a race to the bottom in terms of journalistic quality, with 'facts' being recirculated regardless of the veracity their underlying foundations. We will all live in our own little echo chambers, shut off from anything that challenges our narrow world view.

    I'm not sure what the answer is, or even if one is required. Perhaps the brief period of pre-Internet TV will come to be seen as some golden yet naive age?

  7. graeme leggett

    Too wide an inference from a narrow instance

    As I read it, this is an experiment which would tweak the presentation of the drama, whether you prefer it filmic or interlaced video, the background music a little lower, a happy ending or a sad one.

    Taking it to a individual broadcast schedule or filtered news is not really on the horizon at the moment

  8. Mage Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    This is stupid.

    People tend to only consume more of the same. People will be aided in being narrow in taste and outlook, prejudices reinforced.

    The exact opposite of BBC Charter.

    1. Michael B.

      Re: This is stupid.

      People do this anyway it's called using the TV guide and changing the channel. At least in this brave new world I will have wall to wall Only Connect with even the mention of the existence of Strictly Come Dancing being a taboo.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: This is stupid.

        Aye, but at least with changing the channel there's a chance you might see something you hadn't previously considered, and having it catch your interest. This way you'll never see anything you don't expect, unless they stick random material in.

        To be honest, I think it's an appalling idea, but then, if you cut my head off it would say BBC down my neck.

  9. The Axe

    Journalist's job

    "What a journalist's job is to try and do, is go a tiny bit further than that, and actually try and open people's minds up, and ask, ‘Have you thought of looking at it this way?’ …"

    Except if the topic is global warming or anything else to do with green isues. Then you will only get what the BBC thinks is the consensus.

  10. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Do I need a tv license?

    Bearing in mind that the requirement for a tv license is the ability to receive live broadcast images, if those images are specific to the viewer and not generally broadcast do I need a license?

  11. Steve Button

    Andrew what are you smoking?


    I like your stuff and look forward to reading it, but I think on this occasion you've made a massive leap from very little evidence. I've learned a lot from Adam Curtis documentaries too, although that last one was a bit loooong. They will never get it to work anyway, and how the fuck is my mood going to relate to the background music anyway? It's a stupid idea, which sounded good in some brainstorming session.

    I've worked at companies trying to develop personalisation algorithms and it's a pretty tricky problem. Personally I think I've got pretty eclectic taste, and therefore I've never found any useful results.

    Having said that, Spotify Weekly playlist seemed to get it right for a while until my wife started listening to a load of 80s stuff, and it's ruined it. ;-) but that's another problem as one person's mood or interests would affect the experience for everyone who uses that telly.

    I'm going to file this idea in the same box as Amazon's drone delivery. Probably not going to happen in my lifetime.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did I just walk into the Will Self school of journalism here ?

    Somewhat over florid to say the least, I was under the impression Red tops are supposed to be punchy.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What happens if they apply the same logic to news? It's a slippery slope.

  14. Pete 2 Silver badge

    So we'll still have 500 channels full of crap

    > Rather than taking the viewer beyond their prejudices or acquired experiences, it’s confining the viewer within the prejudices and experiences that they have already acquired

    So very like choosing which newspaper to read?

    Although I would fully expect that the prospect of tailoring programme content to individuals will be far too difficult and expensive. Rather, this technology will merely become a way of tailoring advertising to the punter.

  15. 2460 Something

    We already knew that the BBC was biased. This just helps re-iterate just how far the corporation has fallen.

    1. Chika

      What happens if they apply the same logic to news? It's a slippery slope.

      You get Fox News and MSNBC, presumably.

    2. Ironclad

      Re: Andrew what are you smoking?


      I can't see this ever working beyond changing the muzak in a few scenes.

      This will go the same way as Scratch 'n Sniff.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I know, they let Andrew on snoozenight.

      Sorry AO, too good to resist.

      1. JohnMoser

        Since we are talking about the BBC, unless you are a hardcore neo-Nazi(or radical Leftist, to the extent there is a difference), you would almost certainly see a lot less antisemitism and oikophobia masquerading as news. The sniffles and hand-wringing over entrenchment in "self-referential groups" is a bit ironic coming from defenders of the cloistered pseudo-intellectuals at the BBC. It is, however, a stupid idea.

    4. DaLo

      Re: Do I need a tv license?

      "Do you need" or "will you need"? It hasn't happened yet, so I presume you are asking "Will I need?". At the present time you only need a TV licence if you are watch or record live TV (not the ability to watch or record!).

      By the time this comes out you may well find that the TV licence requirement is extended to accessing any of the BBC streaming services on iPlayer (which is most likely where this technology would appear). This was mentioned as part of the agreement to the BBC 'becoming responsible' for over 74 year olds TV licences.

  16. Dan 55 Silver badge

    An accusation often levelled at the BBC is that they they charge everyone but don't produce something for everyone. Here they are trying to produce something for everyone and that's not good enough either.

    And the opposite of narrowcasting is nudging... the BBC can't do both narrowcast and nudge at the same time surely?

  17. Mud5hark

    That is going to get confusing when you discuss last nights Eastbenders over the water cooler? "Egad? Lucy blew Phil Mitchell you say? I don't remember that!"

  18. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    On the other hand ...

    Pandering to my own personal prejudices and agenda may be preferable to pandering to those set by the government.

  19. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    BBC Website

    The website still hasn't cottoned on to my prejudice against viewing their media content using Flash.

  20. Cincinnataroo

    Hey Chill

    Hey, Andrew Orlowski, take a chill pill.

    Just imagine. If you have control over the algorithm you can cash in on Brain Plasticity and shape things. For example reduce the overwhelming negativity and stupidity of much broadcasting.

    Have a good day, y'all.

  21. Graham Marsden

    "What a journalist's job is to try and do...

    " go a tiny bit further than that, and actually try and open people's minds up, and ask, ‘Have you thought of looking at it this way?’ [...] What really happens now, is that they're so entrenched in their self-referential groups, anyone who joins up the dots any other way is a bad person."

    Of course it does also help if the journalists have an open mind too, instead of being stuck in an entrenched viewpoint which won't let them acknowledge that other viewpoints may be correct and that someone who holds them is not necessarily a bad person.

  22. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    On todays playlist...

    ...was ABBA, Deep Purple, Phantom of the Opera, Motorhead, Stravinski, and Rush to name just a few. I wonder how the BBC would catagorise my "habits" from that?

    Answer. They can't. Because That's the stuff either uploaded to the car headunit built-in MP3 player or on a USB pendrive plugged into the car. I have more important stuff to store on the phone memory and since I'm on the road most of the time am simply never going to use it streaming so no one but me knows what I listen to.

    Then again, as others have said, it seems more like kite flying than anything else. No doubt "lessons will be learned" and some of the results of their research will turn up elsewhere, possibly in totally unrelated fields or projects.

  23. Steven Roper

    I like the sound of this... I think?

    Part of me is appalled at the potential for privacy invasion and the profiling and analytics that will go along with it, including the inevitable carefully-tailored advertising designed to bypass my conscious decision-making processes. After all, I've made no bones about how much I hate being tracked and profiled.

    But this also has promise. Being able to mess around with my content means I could strip out all the feminism, misandry and political correctness that has been seeping into popular entertainment of late. I can tune my shows so the male characters aren't all portrayed as perverts, morons or manginas, depict couples that aren't always either gay or interracial, get rid of the anti-racist, anti-sexist preaching, and the self-entitled bitchiness that seems to be de rigeur in so many of today's shows and movies.

    Pandering to my prejudices? Oh yes, please. Anything to shut the agenda-pushing SJW brigade out of my life. They'll hate this. With a passion.

    Hmmm... Why do I suddenly have the sneaking suspicion if this takes off it'll get canned all of a sudden, or certain options to change certain things will be removed so the PC army can still shove their agenda in everyone's faces? Given the media's propensity for PC and the increasing unpopularity of the PC movement, I can't see this passing unscathed the moment they wake up to the fact that the very people they're trying to preach to and reprogram, are suddenly able to exclude them.

    1. Yugguy

      Re: I like the sound of this... I think?

      Have an upvote. There's nothing I hate more in books, films, tv, than when I can hear the author obviously preaching to me.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: On todays playlist...

      They'd recommend some John Peel sessions.

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