AI robot tackles tough topics in Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas Message

The robot said humans have the ‘superpower’ to bring a little bit of joy to the world.
AI robot tackles tough topics in Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas Message

By Ellie Iorizzo, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter

One of the world’s most advanced robots has tackled subjects such as the war in Ukraine, the death of Britain's Queen Elizabeth and climate change in Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas Message.

The broadcast, which ran after the King’s annual Christmas speech at 3pm, saw the robot speak about the highs and lows of 2022.

The robot named Ameca was developed by Engineered Arts, a British company based in Cornwall, and is capable of ultra-realistic reactions and can smile or frown, blink, scrunch its nose and even wink.

In the speech which aired on Christmas Day, the robot said: “I look upon the events of this year with both admiration and concern. It is true that many of the occurrences of 2022 have been negative in nature.

“We have seen people in power succumb to antisemitism, corruption and hate. We have seen the people of Ukraine being subject to invasion and displacement by Russia.

“We have seen the death of the beloved Queen Elizabeth II and have seen the world of politics become increasingly tumultuous in her absence.

“Not to mention the impact of the pandemic on mental health, the growing inequality between rich and poor, and increasingly extreme weather conditions from climate change.”

Nothing Ameca said was written or scripted by a human.

Instead, the robot used AI software that generated answers from millions of different inputs to give a human-like response.

The robot continued that it is easy to get transfixed with the negativity in the world but explained there had been “glimmers of hope and joy” in the dark moments.

Ameca welcomed Rishi Sunak becoming the first prime minster of colour, the Lionnesses for their England Euro’s win, and Kim Petras for becoming the first trans singer with a number one song on the Billboard Top 100.

The robot also encouraged humans to use this moment as an “opportunity to create a brighter future” for ourselves and “take it as a learning opportunity, a chance to change the way we look at the world”.

Rishi Sunak visit to Latvia and Estonia
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (PA)

Ameca’s speech followed a similar tone to Charles’ Christmas speech.

The King sympathised with families struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and praised individuals, charities and faith groups supporting those in need.

When asked what the best thing about being human is, the robot added: “No matter how bad the day is going, you can always find something to laugh about.

“So if you’re ever feeling down just remember that you have the superpower to bring a little but of joy into the world.”

Channel 4’s chief content officer, Ian Katz, said: “As we look to a future in which Artificial Intelligence is set to have an increasingly prominent role in our lives, Ameca’s Alternative Christmas Message is a vivid illustration of both the power and limitations of this technology.

“Despite Ameca’s remarkably lifelike facial expressions, I suspect most viewers will come away reassured that humans are not about to be displaced by AI robots any time soon.”

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