The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has launched a project to explore the power of AI solutions in content classification.

Partly funded by government agency Innovate UK, the BBFC is working with Amazon Web Service (AWS) to develop a prototype for a bespoke AI tool that will identify and tag content issues.

4. BBFC Explores AI for Content Classification

The BBFC has launched a project to explore AI solutions in content classification

AWS has provided its machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) technologies to develop the tagging tool.

The tool aims to identify and tag content issues in line with the BBFC’s published Classification Guidelines, which are reviewed by BBFC Compliance Officers and used to generate BBFC age ratings.

The project will combine the BBFC’s dataset and human insight from over a century of viewing content with AWS cloud services that support AI technologies.

Read more AI and ML: driving content automation

The BBFC said the project aims to complement its existing classification and compliance processes, and is designed to bring efficiencies to the human viewing process of content.

The BBFC has recently recruited four new Compliance Officers and said the expanded team will continue to be at the centre of classification for years to come and that they will help the BBFC’s classification practices remain in step with the expectations of UK audiences.

The BBFC said alpha testing phase is currently underway and demonstrates promising initial figures, with the tool achieving 80% accuracy when identifying content issues.

Initial statistics also highlight the potential for this tool to bring large-scale efficiencies to compliance teams by delivering possible time-savings of 60%.

The project is further supported by the University of Bath’s Department of Computer Science to maintain the highest levels of data ethics and to mitigate data and algorithmic bias.

Additionally, the BBFC is building a separate tool to determine and assign international age ratings, which can be used in conjunction with the tagging tool. This aims to enable distributors and streaming services to obtain age ratings and content advice for multiple territories in a streamlined and cost-effective way. Both tools share the goal of driving down the cost of classification in the future.

Natasha Kaplinksy OBE, president of the BBFC, said: “This announcement marks an incredibly exciting transition for the BBFC, as we continue to embrace new technology to help us achieve our core mission of supporting people and families across the UK to make informed viewing decisions about the content they consume. We recognise that in the coming years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is likely to play a part in a blended approach to classification. Through this project, we are exploring ways in which AI might support and enhance the BBFC’s classification work, including online. I’m proud to be leading such a cultural institution of over 110 years into the future of classification.”

David Austin OBE, chief executive of the BBFC said: “With the exponential growth of online content over the last few years, we’re investing in these new products and the development of scalable solutions to improve our service by making the guidance we provide even more useful to families. Although in its infancy, we’re confident that this project will bring added value to the wider industry by bringing down the cost of classification in the future. We’re pleased to be working with AWS to help make this a reality.”

Chris Hayman, director of UK public sector at AWS said: “We’re delighted to be collaborating with the BBFC as they continue to adopt new digital technologies and drive down the cost of film classification. The BBFC’s work helps people to make responsible and informed decisions about what they watch, and we’re proud of the work we are doing with the BBFC to explore how the AWS Cloud and AI technologies can be used to help classify high volumes of content in a scalable way.”

Read more Generative AI and sustainability: Vital, but at a price