Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

China debuts the world's first AI news presenter

China debuts the world's first AI news presenter

The world's first Artificial Intelligence TV news anchor resembles a male human anchor and has the voice and facial expressions of a real person.

Xinhua, China's state-run press agency, has created two virtual "composite anchors" that use artificial intelligence to read the news, the South China Morning Post reports.

"This is scary stuff, and arguably I am staring directly at my future replacement", veteran 10 News First newsreader Sandra Sully said of the technology.

The AI anchors are now available throughout Xinhua's internet and mobile platforms such as its official Chinese and English apps, WeChat public account, and online TV webpage.

According to the, an English-language anchor and a Chinese-language anchor were created by Xinhua in partnership with local Beijing search engine company Sogou.

The team says that its AI can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor, a claim that's dubious, at best.

Xinhua used the footage of human anchors as the base layer and then animated the facial features to make it a talking AI.

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Net users on Chinese micro-blogging site Weibo questioned if these AI anchors would replace human reporters.

"It's the same technology that's going to be used to make politicians say things that they never said", Professor of artificial intelligence Toby Walsh told 10 daily.

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

A more immediately worrying aspect is that virtual news readers could be yet another step down the route of delivering fake news and propaganda.

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".

"We will see it improve over time", he told the BBC.

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