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China Xinhua News Agency Debuts AI Anchor; Created Via Machine Learning

10 November, 2018, 03:28 | Author: Lydia Fleming
  • Watch this creepy AI anchor talk like a real person

Xinhua claims that its AI anchors "can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor", however their clearly artificial and heavily synthesized voices can sometimes struggle with the nuances of pronunciation.

China's state-owned Xinhua News Agency introduced so-called "composite anchors" on Wednesday, combining the images and voices of human anchors with artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Reading between the lines, that would suggest there's potential for the AI news readers to push their human counterparts out of their jobs. But there's one difference: While human anchors work eight hours everyday, their AI clones can report news tirelessly 24/7.

Xinhua news anchor Qiu Hao stands next to an AI virtual news anchor based on him, at a Sogou booth during an expo at the fifth World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen town of Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, China November 7, 2018. The plan's first step is to catch up with the U.S. on AI technology by 2020.

"Honestly, it's much better and more impressive than I expected, however there is no natural cadence in his delivery and that contributes to a lack of authenticity". China, as ever, is taking this to a whole new level. No details were given about how they were made.


In April this year, BuzzFeed created an eerily convincing video of former US President Barack Obama appearing to speak against Donald Trump. One would imagine that TV news anchors, for example, wouldn't be threatened by advancing technology, but it seems that might not be the case. "I look forward to bringing you the brand new news experiences", the AI anchor said, hinting at two things here.

"We will see it improve over time", he told the BBC. Search engine Sogou, which also does research and development in AI, is providing the underlying technology for the project.

Elsewhere, the technology is making its presence felt across several professions, from medicine to transport.

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