China's Xinhua agency unveils AI news presenter

Posted November 11, 2018

Though Xinhua presents the avatars as independently learning from "live broadcasting videos", the avatars do not appear to rely on true artificial intelligence, as they simply read text written by humans.

It is reported that this technology is different from using a three-dimensional digital model of a person.

Personality is a big part of what makes news anchors successful and why people tune in to watch them, at least here in the United States.

The AI anchors, developed by the state news agency Xinhua and the tech firm Sogou Inc, were on display at the World Internet Conference in the eastern Chinese town of Wuzhen, drawing in curious passers-by.

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One of the AI presenters was modeled after real anchor Qiu Hao, who presents the Chinese version of the news, while the one that presents the English version was modeled after news anchor Zhang Zhao.

"I will work tirelessly to keep you informed, as the text will be entered into my database without interruption".

China has debuted its first Artificial Intelligence (AI) news anchor on the internet Wednesday.

However, the facial movements of both AI anchors look unnatural and can cause them to fall into the "uncanny valley".

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The company said the aim of introducing AI anchors is to reduce news production costs and enable it to create quick videos during breaking news.

"I am AI news anchor in Beijing", the computer-generated host announced in a robotic voice at that start of its English-language broadcast. This is my very first day in Xinhua News agency.

Xinhua developed and built a robot anchor with the search engine Sogou.com and had also posted two more reports from the Artificial Intelligence broadcaster on its Social media Twitter news feed.

But some experts are skeptical about the kind of news-watching experience an AI news anchor offers.

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The news is amusing some actual news presenters - BBC's Simon McCoy burst out laughing while reading that Xinhua claimed its AI anchor was just as natural as a human one.