Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

China's state news agency debuts 'AI anchor'

Artificial Intelligence AI AI news anchor AI news anchor China AI English news anchor first AI TV anchor Xinhua robot news anchor Xinhua AI news anchor Watch this creepy AI anchor talk like a real person
Troy Mann | 09 November, 2018, 14:25

News reports are fed into the system uninterrupted, meaning these newsreaders could theoretically operate 24-7.

'My voice and appearance are modelled on Zhang Zhao, a real anchor with Xinhua, ' he continued in a somewhat robotic voice.

Xinhua said that together with other anchors, "He" will bring you authoritative, timely and accurate news information in Chinese and English. "This is my very first day in Xinhua news agency", Xinhua's newest AI employee said in his introductory video at the conference.

China has got its first Artificial Intelligence (AI) news anchor.

The new AI anchors, launched by Xinhua and Beijing-based search engine operator Sogou during the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, can deliver the news with "the same effect" as human anchors because the machine learning programme is able to synthesise realistic-looking speech, lip movements and facial expressions, according to a Xinhua news report on Wednesday. In a country where the press is heavily censored, one wonders if China has more ambitious plans to roll out more virtual news anchors, replacing human ones who might not always toe the party line.

Creation of fake news readers to suppress news and take control over media sounds chilling.

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The state-run news agency considers the AI anchors to be members of its reporting team.

That isn't to say the technology isn't without its own caveats towards realism.

The highest paid news anchor, CNN's Anderson Cooper, is reportedly paid US$100 million a year, while Diane Sawyer at ABC and Sean Hannity at Fox News earn US$80 million each.

"As an AI news anchor under development, I know there is a lot for me to improve", the AI anchor said.

Though truly a technological marvel, these AI anchors do have some limitations, like limited range of facial expressions and artificial voice.

Noel Sharkey, emeritus professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, said it was a good effort, but it could be very boring even if it improves over time.

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