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Sunday, 18 August 2013

Punditry Problems Proliferate

It seems that our investigation into the latest scandal at the BBC has been timely. Regular readers will be aware that via my contacts at Bush House I have discovered that over £100m has now been squandered on an ill-conceived project to replace the trusty Rollodex system that for almost five decades has underpinned the selection of pundits for the 'Today' programme on the BBC channel known as Radio 4.
The vision for the project was revolutionary, I admit; in fact one could say breath-taking. It was intended to work entirely in real-time. A feed from the editorial scheduler would provide the script for the topic that was next to be discussed on air. A neural network would interpret the script to identify the essence of its subject matter. That essence would be coded as a set of search criteria intended to  identify potentially relevant pundits. The actual choice of a pundit would be made via an auction. Interested pundits would stand by their PCs at home, with proximity sensors distinguishing those present from those who had gone to make a coffee or do the Sudoku in the loo. The present pundits would each be allowed to make an online bid, and a preferred pundit  would be selected by an algorithm that balanced lower bid prices against higher scores of relevance for experience. The preferred pundit would participate in the radio programme via Skype. Fair enough conceptually, but as we old timers know, not so straightforward in practice. Quite apart from the Chinese hackers, there was the schema to consider...

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