China has unveiled the world’s first virtual news anchor. The state news agency Xinhua introduced its newest recruit during the World Internet Conference, an annual convention in the eastern Chinese city of Wuzhen, organised by the Chinese government.
Developed jointly by the news agency and Chinese search engine company Sogou.com, the AI anchor can work 24 hours a day.
Modelled according to the voice modulation of human anchor, the robot learns continuously from live broadcasting videos and claims to read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor.
“The development of the media industry calls for continuous innovation and deep integration with the international advanced technologies … I look forward to bringing you brand new news experiences.” the anchor says nodding his head in blinking his eyebrows slightly.
The AI anchor can work through the day as per its official website and various social media platforms, reducing news production costs and improving efficiency, according to the same report.
Twitter however was not impressed with the development as a majority of them gave a thumbs down to the AI newsreader, some for its lack of expression, others fearing it’s step towards creation of a dystopian state.
This is terrible because it’s void of emotion. It probably cost more than a regular anchor’s salary!
— Jackie King (@MsJackie2461) November 8, 2018
No thanks. pic.twitter.com/vhTHsAzIAm
— Daniel Major (@GuyFawkesRetro) November 8, 2018
News anchors around the world right now… pic.twitter.com/3v9IgFkkIY
— ZroHour (Jon) (@ZroHour) November 9, 2018
— M. (@Muarij_Masoodi) November 9, 2018
Feels uncomfortable, fake. There are parts that are difficult to understand. TTS doesn’t sound natural.
— Krzysztof Pawliszak (@luigiluib) November 8, 2018
This is terrible make it stop
— Douglas Incandela (@AbleUnAble) November 8, 2018
However, some took a swipe at the critics saying it’s same as the paid news anchors who propagate government’s agenda on prime time television.
All the commenters bashing this as propaganda as if this is somehow worse than paid human anchors reading a script handed to them…
— Sean Tavares (@MaxDaddy78) November 9, 2018
I don’t see the difference between this A.I and your usual propaganda I mean journalism.
— Bradleypit (@Bradleypit2) November 8, 2018