Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Chinese State Media Debuts 'AI' News Anchors

Chinese State Media Debuts 'AI' News Anchors

The English-speaking "artificial intelligence" anchor for China's Xinhua News Agency made its debut at the fifth World Internet Conference in east China's Zhejiang Province - which began Wednesday and runs until Friday. Xinhua started using the AI anchor in its broadcast Thursday as well as in a separate Chinese-language version modeled on another presenter.

According to Xinhua, the AI anchor "has a male image with a voice, facial expressions and actions of a real person".

Xinhua in collaboration with search engine operator Sogou unveiled the new technology at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China, South China Morning Post reported. One would imagine that TV news anchors, for example, wouldn't be threatened by advancing technology, but it seems that might not be the case.

This is my very first day in Xinhua News Agency, ' says the presenter in an introductory video.

An AI system has been used to synthesise the presenters' voices, lip movements and expressions based on those of real presenters.

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China has got its first Artificial Intelligence (AI) news anchor. "He" learns from live broadcasting videos by himself and can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor".

Qiu Hao, the Xinhua presenter who provided the prototype for the virtual announcer, said: "It will help us deliver news more effectively but it also poses more challenges to us news announcers". The AI anchor is said to "reduce news production costs and improve news efficiency". "I look forward to bringing you the brand new news experiences", the AI anchor said, hinting at two things here.

"It's quite hard to watch for more than a few minutes", University of Oxford Professor Michael Wooldridge told the BBC.

"We'll probably keep that although you can see the financial advantages to replacing those very expensive newsreaders with AI robots that never sleep and never require wages".

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