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Is this Our Future? China Develops News Anchor powered by Artificial Intelligence
09 November 2018, 02:25 | Cameron Gross
Xinhua News Agency Sogou
Xinhua's first English AI anchor introduces himself as what he is and what his capabilities are. The AI TV anchor is also said to improve efficiency as it can quickly generate breaking news.
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.
There's a reason this news anchor seemed a bit robotic.
Xinhua claims that its AI anchors "can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor", however their clearly artificial and heavily synthesized voices can sometimes struggle with the nuances of pronunciation.
"I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted", "he" said in a monotonic voice as part of an introductory video. That's because you're not looking at a real person.
Xinhua said the achievement was a "breakthrough in the field of global AI synthesis", pioneering the synthesis of real-time audio and video with AI-created anchors in the news field. "Together with other anchors, they will bring you authoritative, timely and accurate news information in Chinese and English".
The state-run news agency considers the AI anchors to be members of its reporting team.
File footage of human anchor Zhang Zhao forms the base layer over which animated mouths and other facial features are placed to produce twin AI anchors; one Chinese-speaking and the other catering to English-speaking audiences.
The digital anchors can be programmed to read news faster than the traditional CGI techniques that are used.
The idea behind an AI newsreader is that news can be delivered 24/7 without suffering spiralling production costs.
He explained: "It's quite hard to watch for more than a few minutes. It's very flat, very single-paced, it's not got rhythm, pace or emphasis", Prof Wooldridge told the BBC.
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