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China debuts creepy AI that reads the news like a real(ish) anchor


Dont adjust your TV set, thats just a new computer-generated news anchor working out the bugs. Not here exactly, but on our new hardware site Plugged. Xinhua, a Chinese state-run media company, and Sogou, a Beijing-based search engine debuted a pair of AI news anchors this week at the World Internet Conference. While identical in appearance, the two versions are designed to appease both English and Mandarin-speaking watchers. Both are carbon copies of a real-life anchor, Zhang Zhao. To create the life-like replica, the teams poured over hours of video and went to great lengths to recreate the mannerisms and idiosyncrasies of actual broadcast news anchors — complete with realistic lip movements and facial expressions. AI anchors have officially become members of Xinhuas reporting team, the report said. Together with other anchors, they will bring you authoritative, timely and accurate news information in Chinese and English. The team says that its AI can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor, a claim thats dubious, at best. It does, however, exceed humans in one key area: it never needs to eat or sleep. This version can read the news, uninterrupted, 24/7. The AI confirms as much, saying I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted. Xinhua said, in its report: AI anchors have officially become members of Xinhuas reporting team. Together with other anchors, they will bring you authoritative, timely and accurate news information in Chinese and English. Both anchors have already been put to work on a handful of distribution channels, like its public WeChat account, the TV webpage, two Weibo accounts, and the networks English and Chinese apps. via CNETThe world's first on Xinhua

Chinese news agency adds AI anchors to its broadcast team


Theyre modeled after human anchors and are animated to speak. China's state-run news agency Xinhua has unveiled the latest additions to its team of reporters -- two AI anchors. The two anchors, one that speaks in English and another in Chinese, have the likeness of some of Xinhua's human anchors, but their voices, facial expressions and mouth movements are synthesized and animated using deep learning techniques. " AI anchors have officially become members of the Xinhua News Agency reporting team," the agency said. "They will work with other anchors to bring you authoritative, timely and accurate news information in both Chinese and English." China's South China Morning Post reports that the AI anchors are available through Xinhua's English and Chinese apps, its TV webpage and its WeChat public account. The technology behind the anchors is being provided by search engine company Sogou. Xinhua says its AI anchors can deliver the news with the "same effect" as that of human reporters. But if you watch the video, that isn't exactly true. It's pretty clear you're watching a non-human anchor as the mouth movements and facial expressions aren't quite human-like, and the voice can come off as a little robotic. But as recent research has shown, manipulating video to make images say what you want while still looking shockingly natural, is within reach. And maybe future AI anchors, if there are more, won't be stuck in the uncanny valley. Unlike human anchors, Xinhua's AI anchors can work around the clock, and the news agency says they, therefore, allow for improved production efficiency and reduced costs.