China's state news agency debuts 'AI anchor'

Newsroom of the future? Chinese TV unveils unnerving ‘AI anchors

Xinhua News Agency Sogou

Developed by Xinhua and Chinese search engine company Sogou, the anchor was created to simulate human voice, facial expressions and gestures.

It was jointly developed by Xinhua News Agency and Chinese search engine company Sogou.com.

The broadcasters made their debut during China's annual World Internet Conference, an event meant to be China's Davos for the tech sector as well as a platform for China's vision of the internet and potential for new technologies. Well, one might not find anything different at the first glance, but if one looks closely, you will see that there is something different with this particular news presenter. The AI anchor's voice is unmistakably robotic, too, mispronouncing words such as "Panama" and getting the space between words slightly off ― akin to hearing the news from an Alexa virtual assistant or a car's Global Positioning System.


"Hey, you're watching English news program", says English, "leading" in the beginning of his first official news release. The AI-powered anchor has the facial expression of a real person and it can read the news in a voice that is created to sound like that of a professional anchor. The AI also took the opportunity to highlight how the revolution of the media industry needs innovation and deep integration of technology.

FBN's Stuart Varney on China developing a virtual anchor to deliver the news.

Xinhua News claims the presenter can "read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor".


'Hello everyone, I am an English Artificial Intelligence Anchor.

The newest members of Xinhua's newsroom are AI anchors who will report "tirelessly" all day every day, from anywhere in the country. "They will work with other anchors to bring you authoritative, timely and accurate news information in both Chinese and English", Xinhua told the South China Morning Post.

There's a reason this news anchor seemed a bit robotic. But this technology has its limitations.


However, the users of Chinese micro-blogging site "Weibo" were not quite happy with the virtual news anchors. He can read news as it is typed out in the teleprompter.

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