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Will the news anchor of the future be an artificial person?

ITP students developed a concept of an artificial person for Yle.
Students sitting in a park having a picnic

Students in the Information and Service Business track of Aalto University School of Business’ Information Technology Program (ITP) minor program collaborated with Yle this summer. The team consisted of Pauli Pihlajamäki, Leszek Seifert, Nina Karinoja, Aleksi Romakkaniemi and Keny Muesa.The student team produced a consulting report about the utilization of AI and an artificial person for Yle’s service offering. 

“Yle wanted us to design a “synthetic” , a.k.a. an artificially created virtual person. The idea was to look 5 to 10 years into the future and innovate new ways of producing and sharing Yle’s services and content to the audience with the help of this concept”, describes Pauli Pihlajamäki, who worked in the student team. Pihlajamäki is a master’s student in Aalto School of Business, majoring in Information and Service Management.

The students started their three-month project in the beginning of June. Over the course of the summer they researched widely the literature published on the topic, whilst also familiarizing themselves with the artificial persons already in use worldwide, and into their current ways of their utilization. As an end product, the team managed to deliver a rough model of a working artificial person.

Aalto University / concept of Wiley
An example picture of the synthetic person Wiley, with whom consumers can have conversations.

“We managed to create a development timeline for the concept, which hopefully guides Yle to implement the concept in the future. In this timeline we especially noted the concept’s design, beneficial areas of use and also ethical points-of-view. We narrowed down and developed three areas of use for Yle as an example, in which we viewed massive potential for the concept, and which would work as good first steps for Yle”, Pihlajamäki continues.

The concept created by the team surpassed Yle’s expectations, and Yle is planning to continue the research into the field by utilizing the report produced by the team. Yle hopes to find competent student teams in the future to help them develop important technology projects. “Collaborative projects with students are an important form of joint learning and development for us. The 2020 projects gave us important perspectives and challenged us to move forward in our research”, described Yle’s contact person.

Pihlajamäki enjoyed the project, and especially the collaboration with Yle. “A project in a multidisciplinary team, especially when working remotely due to Covid-19, challenged us to a different kind of project management than we were used to, and to utilize digital tools better. This kind of a unique concept also forced us to imagine the future in a creative way, whilst also being open for uncertainty. “

ITP is a multidisciplinary minor program, organized every summer by Aalto, which is celebrating its 25th birthday this year. An integral part of the program are corporate partners and projects done in collaboration with them. Close collaboration with companies enables the students to pursue their careers and gain employment from these companies.

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