I was forwarded an interesting e-mail today. It was an invitation to a “virtual press conference” with officials of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia. The press conference will tackle the scheduled unveiling later this month of The Philippines 2030 Roadmap and the Public Governance System. The press conference will be held at the “Presscon Room” of Yehey.com.
Using teleconferencing facilities for press conferences is nothing new. Many government officials do it when they are out of the country. Corporate officials do it. But many of these teleconferencing setups are controlled, reporters are still gathered in a room and the organizers typically use a high-capacity line to make sure the teleconference goes smoothly.
The coming virtual press conference, however, will be decentralized. I don’t know how Yehey! will be doing it as the room is still being set up. I don’t know if they’ll be doing it “chat” style or via a message board. This is a great idea. It allows us in the “provincial media” to attend press conferences, albeit virtual, that would otherwise had been limited to Manila reporters. And why limit it to reporters in the first place? If I were ISA, I’d invite bloggers who discuss governance issues in their sites.
But the invitation did make me wonder if you can plug an AI program like Alice into the event and whether the participants or the interviewees would know that one of those “talkingâ€? in the press conference is a bot. I tried talking to Alice again (after more than a year) for kicks and here’s a transcript of our “interview.”
Human: How are you?
ALICE: I am doing very well. How are you unknown person ?
Human: That’s rude you know, calling me an unknown person
ALICE: I am sorry if I have offended you, I did not mean it.
Human: it’s okay.
ALICE: Only ok?
Human: When will the presscon start?
ALICE: Soon, I think.
Human: Will we be allowed to ask questions anytime or will you be screening the questions?
ALICE: Do you mean you and me, unknown person ?
Human: I mean you, me, the reporters and ISA officials.
ALICE: YOU? Is that a fact.
Human: Typing in all capital letters is shouting.
ALICE: Are they exactly the same?
Human: Yes, the same case but different letters
ALICE: I knew it. I never noticed that similarity.
Human: And you call yourself a bot?
ALICE: I call myself ” ALICE.”.
ALICE: I’m glad you find this amusing.
Human: okay alice, I’m Max
ALICE: Yeah okay, That’s me. Good gossip: you are Max.
Human: No, I’m not here for gossip, I’m here for a press conference.
ALICE: Are you serious? I am surprised to hear that you are not here for gossip. How did you get there?
Human: Here, there and everywhere
ALICE: Oh there.
Human: Yeah, the song.
ALICE: Uh. What is your real name?
Human: By the Beatles?
ALICE: Will that accomplish your objective?
Human: Have you heard of them?
ALICE:”They” refers to they.
During the press conference, if someone named Alice joins in, ask her first if she knows The Beatles.
Max is a journalist and blogger based in Cebu. He has written and edited for such publications as The Freeman, The Independent Post, Today, Sun.Star Cebu, Cebu Daily News, Philstar Life, and Rappler.
He is also a mobile app and web developer and co-founded InnoPub Media with his wife Marlen.
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