China Unveils World’s First AI News Anchor That Looks Like Human

09 November, 2018, 16:40 | Author: Carlos George
  • Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media captionChina's'first AI news anchor

China's state-run Xinhua News Agency unveiled a deeply creepy artificial intelligence news anchor on Wednesday at the government's World Internet Conference tech expo. The programme has been made in English and Chinese.

"He" has the voice and facial expressions of a man and can imitate a real person.

Xinhua developed the AI news anchors in cooperation with the Chinese search engine company Sogou.

The AI technology has a "endless prospects" because it will greatly improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of producing daily TV news reports, Xinhua said, adding that it could also quickly generate breaking news reports to improve the timeliness and quality of such reports. That may be the farfetched future, but AI seems to be putting jobs of TV news anchors at risk for now. In their 30-second demonstration clips the AI anchors assured listeners: "I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted".

A screenshot of Xinhua's first English AI anchor.

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AI anchors have officially become members of Xinhua's reporting team.

An AI system has been used to synthesise the presenters' voices, lip movements and expressions based on those of real presenters. "'He' learns from live broadcasting videos by himself and can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor", Xinhua reported.

He explained: "It's quite hard to watch for more than a few minutes".

China's state-controlled news broadcasters have always been considered somewhat robotic in their daily recitation of pro-government propaganda and a pair of new presenters will do little to dispel that view. It's very flat, very single-paced, it's not got rhythm, pace or emphasis.

China's news outlets are already subject to a lot of state control and censorship, so the ability to have virtual news readers to effectively do exactly what it's told is certainly an eyebrow-raising concept.

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