Chinese state media debuts robot news anchors

Newsroom of the future? Chinese TV unveils unnerving ‘AI anchors

Newsroom of the future? Chinese TV unveils unnerving ‘AI anchors

Dressed in suit and tie, the AI newsreaders can "learn from live broadcast videos and read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor", according to Xinhua.

Don't adjust your TV set, that's just a new computer-generated news anchor working out the bugs.

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.

Qiu Hao, the Xinhua presenter who provided the prototype for the virtual announcer, said: "It will help us deliver news more effectively but it also poses more challenges to us news announcers".

In a YouTube video, the artificial person explains that its voice and appearance is modeled on Zhang Zhao, a real news reporter with Xinhua.

'I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted, ' he added.

"Hello, you are watching English news programme", says the English-speaking presenter at the start of his first report.

"I look forward to bringing you the brand new news experiences".

Xinhua said the "AI Synthetic Anchors", one for Chinese and one for English news, were developed along with Sogou Inc, a Beijing-based creator of search engines and voice-recognition technology.

Xinhua didn't immediately return HuffPost's request for comment on what its long-term plans are for the AI anchor or what it means for the news agency's staff, including the actual human presenter it's modeled after. The AI anchor is said to "reduce news production costs and improve news efficiency".

"It's quite hard to watch for more than a few minutes", University of Oxford Professor Michael Wooldridge told the BBC.

China's news outlets are already subject to a lot of state control and censorship, so the ability to have virtual news readers to effectively do exactly what it's told is certainly an eyebrow-raising concept.

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