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China’s Xinhua news agency unveils world’s first AI anchor

10 November, 2018, 03:26 | Author: Tara Roberts
  • A screengrab from the video posted by Xinhua News Agency featuring an AI TV anchor

A Chinese press agency Xinhua has unveiled an AI anchor for presenting news.

Based on the appearances of two flesh-and-blood Chinese news presenters, the computerised avatars read out text - one in Chinese, one in English - that is fed into their system, their mouths moving in tandem with the reports.

Sogou, a Chinese search engine, was involved in the system's development.

To create the life-like replica, the teams poured over hours of video and went to great lengths to recreate the mannerisms and idiosyncrasies of actual broadcast news anchors - complete with realistic lip movements and facial expressions. Pay close attention to the AI Anchor, you'll notice that its face has a limited range for facial expressions. While the move could be seen as a threat to human journalists' jobs, some appear to welcome the innovation.

"We quite value the relationship we have with the news readers that we get to know over many years", he said.

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Although other countries have toyed with animated or even robot newscasters, Xinhua claims this is the world's first AI news anchor that has the capability to improve itself over time through machine learning.

China's Xinhua News Agency has introduced an artificial intelligence news anchor. "This is my very first day in Xinhua News Agency. I look forward to bringing you the brand new news experiences", the AI anchor said, hinting at two things here. The AI anchors take the form and shape of a human being and read out news stories.

The developments came after China published its "Next Generation Artificial Intelligence (AI) Development Plan" a year ago, which stipulates that the country should ultimately become the world leader in AI by 2030.

Anyone who's played Deus Ex: Human Revolution will recall the Picus news agency that used an AI news anchor to propagate propaganda of the comms agency behind the news firm.

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