The world’s first artificial intelligence (AI) news anchor made “his” debut at the ongoing fifth World Internet Conference in east China’s Zhejiang Province.
The news anchor, based on the latest AI technology, has a male image with a voice, facial expressions and actions of a real person. “He” learns from live broadcasting videos by himself and can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor.
The AI news anchor was jointly developed by Xinhua News Agency, the official state-run media outlet of China, and Chinese search engine company Sogou.com.
According to Xinhua, “he” has become a member of its reporting team and can work 24 hours a day on its official website and various social media platforms, reducing news production costs and improving efficiency.
A comparison between the machine and his human counterpart reading the headlines in Chinese showed startling similarities which fade as soon as the ‘robot’ anchor opens his mouth and starts speaking.
“Hello everyone I am an English artificial intelligence anchor. This is my very first day in Xinhau news agency,” said an English-language version of the presenter, modelled on a real reporter with the agency, Zhang Zhao.
The system means presenters can work 24-hours a day on its website and social media channels, “reducing production costs”.
“I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted,” said the presenter in an introductory video.
The agency pointed out that the presenters may be particularly useful for disseminating breaking news reports in a timely manner.
Tweets have started rolling out from CNC English-language news today with the bulletins read by the anchor, designed in collaboration with Sogou, China’s second biggest search engine company after Baidu and a key competitor to Google.
AI ethics expert Professor Noel Sharkey tweeted on the news: “The AI component is in the use of machine learning for the difficult task of making the expressions of the CGI news anchor both match the text and and look like a real news anchor.”
The virtual reporter signed off a bulletin on China’s 19th Journalists Day: “Before we go I’d like to send my good wishes to all the journalists across the country.
“As an AI anchor under development I know there is a lot to improve. Thank you for being with us, goodbye for now.”