China's State-Run News Unveils Deeply Creepy New AI Anchor

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media captionChina's'first AI news anchor

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionChina's'first AI news anchor

Calling it a "world first", Xinhua news agency this week debuted a pair of virtual news anchors amid a state-directed embrace of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence. The programme has been made in English and Chinese. A digital entity created from multiple footage of real-life human hosts that reads news with a synthetic voice.

Sogou, a Chinese search engine, was involved in the system's development. That may be the farfetched future, but AI seems to be putting jobs of TV news anchors at risk for now.

"AI anchors have officially become members of the Xinhua News Agency reporting team".

The two virtual anchors, one for the Chinese language and one for the English language, combine the images and voices of real human anchors with artificial intelligence.

Creation of fake news readers to suppress news and take control over media sounds chilling.

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"We've already had President Trump say things are fake news when it's been caught on camera and we no longer can trust what we see with our eyes unless you were there in person you cannot trust that it actually happened anymore", Walsh said.

In a separate introductory video, it added it would "work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted". It makes sense for news agencies trying to reduce news production costs.

Xinhua also says that the virtual anchor can self-learn from watching live broadcasting videos and "can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor".

Newsrooms have increasingly implemented AI technology in recent years, with outlets including The Washington Post using AI to write short reports on such topics as the outcome of sporting events or to send news alerts.

Noel Sharkey, emeritus professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, said it was a good effort, but it could be very boring even if it improves over time.

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