China’s State Press Agency Gets It First ‘AI Anchor’

China’s state-run press agency has enlisted the services of an “AI anchor” to read the news. Xinhua’s AI anchors will essentially be digital composites that are created from footage of real human hosts and they will read the news through synthesized voices. Xinhua hasn’t really detailed the technology that has been used to create these anchors.

The South China Morning Post reports that these AI anchors have been developed by Xinhua in collaboration with Sogou, a Beijing-based search engine operator. The anchors were shown off during the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen. It’s said that the AI anchors can deliver the news with “the same effect” as human anchors. That’s because the machine learning program synthesizes realistic-seeming speech, lip, and facial expressions.

AI anchors will obviously be much cheaper than their human counterparts since they don’t require a monthly salary and they can be on the air for 24 hours a day, something which is not possible for a human.

Xinhua said that the AI anchors will “work with other anchors” to bring viewers the news in both Chinese and English languages. They will be delivering the news on Xinhua’s online and mobile platforms including its official English and Chinese apps, online TV webpage, and its public WeChat account.

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