Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
Tech | By Constance Martin

Watch the world’s first AI news anchor deliver a report

Watch the world’s first AI news anchor deliver a report

China's state-run Xinhua news agency has new star anchors - virtual presenters that use artificial intelligence (AI) to read the news.

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

The two AI anchors were first seen in action at the ongoing 2018 World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang. But there's one difference: While human anchors work eight hours everyday, their AI clones can report news tirelessly 24/7.

News editors need to only input a text into the AI Synthetic Anchor system and the AI composite anchor will do the rest.

The Chinese agency also introduced the Anglosphere to an an English-speaking AI, based on another presenter, who said: "The development of the media industry calls for continuous innovation and deep integration with the worldwide advanced technologies ..."

Calling it a "world first", Xinhua news agency this week debuted a pair of virtual news anchors amid a state-directed embrace of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI).

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China's state-controlled news broadcasters have always 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. "I look forward to bringing you brand new news experiences".

The anchors - the Chinese one is modelled on real-life newsreader Qiu Hao and sports a black suit and red tie - are part of a major push by China to advance its prowess in AI technology, from surveillance equipment to self-driving cars. This can reduce news production costs and improve efficiency during breaking news reports.

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.

Riddle me this: if the robots do wage war, will the artificially intelligent newsreaders tell us?

"It's quite hard to watch for more than a few minutes".

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