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. 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.
Xinhua is boasting that their new artificial intelligence news anchor is a world’s first and that “he” is now considered a regular member of the reporting team and, even better, never needs a break. Since the AI anchor can work 24 hours a day, Xinhua says that means production costs associated with human anchors can be reduced and efficiency improved.
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.” But we’re not so sure about that last part. Take a look at the video below and you’ll see his voice sounds highly synthesized.
Still, the achievement is fascinating, creepy, and horrifying at the same time. In a country where the press is heavily censored, one wonders if China has more ambitious plans to roll out more virtual news anchors, replacing human ones who might not always toe the party line.