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China unveils 'world first' AI news anchors

The Japan Times

SHANGHAI – China's state-controlled news broadcasters have long 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. Calling it a "world first," the Xinhua News Agency this past week debuted a pair of virtual news anchors amid a state-directed embrace of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence. Based on the appearances of two flesh-and-blood Chinese news presenters, the computerized avatars read out text that is fed into their system, their mouths moving in tandem with the reports. Xinhua said the "AI Synthetic Anchors," one for Chinese and one for English news, were developed along with Sogou Inc., a Beijing-based creator of search engines and voice-recognition technology. China last year unveiled plans to become a world leader in AI and other high-tech fields, though it has since toned down the rhetoric amid a trade war with the United States, which has included accusations by President Donald Trump that China steals U.S. technologies.