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    Artificial Intelligence and SMPTE

    April 8, 2021

    This issue of the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal focuses on artificial intelligence (AI). AI was “discovered” in the 1940s and hence is certainly not a new phenomenon. AI is a branch of computer science concerned with building machines capable of human intelligence. In the early years, it was very much a theme for science fiction movies, with robots acting like humans changing the world. The results were often disastrous and did not give a good impression of the discipline and its applications.

    After more than 70 years of study, it is only recently that AI has become a feasible solution for the media technology ecosystem. But what exactly does that mean, and how does it impact SMPTE?

    AI is the interdisciplinary fusion of computer science with psychology, statistics, mathematics, and other areas. The idea is to use machines to perform tasks that are normally reserved for humans. This means integrating reasoning or rational thinking, something that only humans can do.

    AI is around us more than we might think. If you are using an Amazon Echo device or iPhone’s Siri, you are interacting with a machine to turn on the washing machine or guide you to the local shopping center. Autonomous vehicles are examples of AI at work, making human-like decisions to parallel park the car or avoid a traffic accident. Perhaps, one of the most well-known examples is Watson, the IBM computer that successfully beat the world chess master Gary Kasparov in 1997 and then defeated the two greatest “Jeopardy!” game show champions in 2011. Impressive, to be sure.

    Given the growth in computing technology, our understanding of cognitive thinking and the vast amounts of data generated through our digital navigations, it is no wonder that AI has been used in a variety of applications, far beyond autonomous cars or games. Most AI applications are used to build efficient systems. Whether in manufacturing or guidance of digital map users, the goal is to achieve a positive result at the lowest cost, enabling industries to thrive and grow. There are, of course, costs associated with the misuse of AI or the application for destructive purposes. Let us focus on the good side of this important technological development for now.

    Here at SMPTE, we launched a task force in 2020 with the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California (ETC@USC). The task force is responsible for gathering requirements and studying use cases around AI implementations and systems related to media production and consumption, with the main objective of identifying areas that could benefit from standardization. In today’s media landscape, as AI has taken off, many systems are proprietary, which tends to raise barriers of entry. We hope that the outcome of the task force will be an opportunity to encourage interoperability with these disparate AI systems.

    This issue includes some very interesting content on how AI is used for voice and speech synthesis as well as closed captioning. These are areas where AI has already proved to provide efficiencies in workflows, and I am sure there are many things to gain from these experiences. Live news and sports production offer unique challenges when deploying AI systems. You will learn much more as you read through this interesting set of articles.

    At its best, AI has great potential to maximize efficiencies. You could say that the SMPTE home office is deploying our version of AI, although not as sophisticated as these media systems. By using data analytics across our various programs, we are searching for trends and relationships between data. Our systems are not yet fully automated, but when they are, we, too, will use AI to improve our membership services.

    Here again, new technology is being deployed in the media technology space where SMPTE can play a defining role in encouraging interoperability. If you are interested in learning more, read this issue and look to participate in the task force. We look forward to supporting more interoperability using AI well into the future.

    Tag(s): AI , Featured , News

    Barbara Lange

    Barbara Lange joined SMPTE as Executive Director in January 2010.   Founded in 1916, SMPTE is the global professional association that supports the technical framework and professional community which makes quality motion imaging available to consumers in a variety of media formats.  Ms. Lange’s portfolio includes executing on the SMPTE Board of Governors’ strategic vision and to ensure the Society’s continued relevance in an ever-evolving media ecosystem.  Under Ms. Lange’s leadership, membership has grown by more than 30% globally, more than 200 leading-edge industry standards have been published -- including industry game-changers such as Interoperable Master Format (IMF), High Dynamic Range (HDR), and Video Over IP -- and the Society has educated thousands of professionals on critical technical topics.  Today, Ms. Lange’s focus is implementing a 3-year strategic business plan that will further SMPTE’s visibility and relevance with an emphasis on attracting a younger and more diverse membership demographic.  In 2015, Ms. Lange led the acquisition of the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA), a leading trade association focused on the application of technology in the creation, distribution and consumption of professional media content; she now also serves as HPA Executive Director.  Ms. Lange holds a BA in Chemistry and German from Washington and Jefferson College, and completed the Executive Development Program at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.  Prior to joining SMPTE she held executive roles in scholarly publishing at highly respected organizations including Springer-Verlag and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Ms. Lange has been recognized by IEEE, Washington & Jefferson College, and honored with TVNewscheck’s 2020 Women in Technology Award for her role in “making a difference in the media industry”.

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