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AI News Anchor Makes Debut In China

NPR Technology

China's Xinhua News Agency has introduced an artificial intelligence news anchor. China's Xinhua News Agency has introduced an artificial intelligence news anchor. "This is my very first day at Xinhua News Agency," says a sharply dressed artificial intelligence news anchor. "I look forward to bringing you the brand new news experiences." China's Xinhua News Agency has billed the technology as the "world's first artificial intelligence (AI) news anchor," unveiled at the World Internet Conference in China's Zhejiang province.


Watch China's new AI anchor read the news

#artificialintelligence

Xinhua is boasting that their new artificial intelligence news anchor is a world's first and that "he" is now considered a regular member of the reporting team and, even better, never needs a break. Since the AI anchor can work 24 hours a day, Xinhua says that means production costs associated with human anchors can be reduced and efficiency improved. Xinhua also says that the virtual anchor can self-learn from watching live broadcasting videos and "can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor." Take a look at the video below and you'll see his voice sounds highly synthesized. Still, the achievement is fascinating, creepy, and horrifying at the same time.


Meet the world's first female AI news anchor

#artificialintelligence

In November, Xinhua and Sogou unveiled the first AI news anchors of any gender, a pair of male AIs trained to deliver the news in either English or Chinese. The same day they unveiled Xin, Xinhua and Sogou announced that they'd given these AI anchors the ability to stand and talk simultaneously, and they'll show off that new ability while covering the Two Sessions alongside their female counterpart. When Xinhua debuted their first AI anchors in November, the news agency claimed that each anchor could "work 24 hours a day on its official website and various social media platforms, reducing news production costs and improving efficiency." Since then, the anchors have delivered 3,400 news reports while logging 10,000 minutes of screen time, according to Tencent News.


Watch this creepy AI anchor talk like a real person

#artificialintelligence

China's state-run media Xinhua and Beijing-based search engine Sogou debuted two "AI composite anchors" -- one each for English and Chinese viewers -- at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen Wednesday. The AI are "cloned" from real-life anchors, according to Xinhua's report, sporting the same faces and voices. The program extracts and combines the features of human anchors from videos of their reporting, using their speech, lip movements and facial expressions. But there's one difference: While human anchors work eight hours everyday, their AI clones can report news tirelessly 24/7. "AI anchors have officially become members of Xinhua's reporting team," the publication said in its report, adding, "Together with other anchors, they will bring you authoritative, timely and accurate news information in Chinese and English."


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.