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China's Xinhua agency unveils world's first AI news presenters

China's Xinhua agency unveils world's first AI news presenters

Chinese news readers may have some new competition - artificially intelligent robot anchors that can mimic human facial expressions and mannerisms while reading out reports.

Xinhau created two AI anchors in partnership with Chinese search giant Sogou, one for English broadcasts and another for its Chinese audience.

The digital anchors can be programmed to read news faster than the traditional CGI techniques that are used.

The anchor takes advantage of AI technology to combine images and voices of human anchors to deliver news with "the same effect" as human anchors. While the voice clearly sounds robotic, and the facial expressions leave a lot to be desired, these will likely become more human-like in future iterations.

China's state-run Xinhua News Agency unveiled a deeply creepy artificial intelligence news anchor on Wednesday at the government's World Internet Conference tech expo. "I'm AI news anchor in Beijing".

The agency says that each of these artificially intelligent anchors can work 24×7 for the website and thus reduce news production costs by improving efficiency.

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Below, you can watch some footage of the English-language AI anchor in action.

"Hello, everyone. I'm an English artificial intelligence anchor".

The Guardian reported that Chinese viewers, who had tuned in for the announcement, were greeted by a digitised version of a regular Xinhua news anchor named Qiu Hao. A report published by McKinsey & Company a year ago indicated that as many as 800 million workers worldwide could be displaced by robots come 2030 - but that some skills are more susceptible to replacement than others.

"It's quite hard to watch for more than a few minutes", University of Oxford Professor Michael Wooldridge told the BBC. "It's very flat, very single-paced, it's not got rhythm, pace or emphasis", Prof Wooldridge told the BBC.

Noel Sharkey, emeritus professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, said it was a good effort, but it could be very tiresome even if it improves over time.


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