China's state run press agency, Xinhua, just launched its first artificial intelligence (AI) anchors at the ongoing fifth World Internet Conference in east China's Zhejiang Province.
Sogou, a major Chinese search engine, assisted with development.
The digital anchors offer certain advantages over humans, Xinhua said, such as being able to work 24 hours a day and to quickly disseminate breaking news. One would imagine that TV news anchors, for example, wouldn't be threatened by advancing technology, but it seems that might not be the case.
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.
The anchors are now available through Xinhua's distribution platforms, including its official Chinese and English apps, WeChat public account, online TV webpage, and two Weibo accounts.
The program extracts and combines the features of human anchors from videos of their reporting, using their speech, lip movements and facial expressions.
The AI anchor has also started presenting news reports. I prefer real human presenters, ' another said.
There are actually a couple of AI Synthetic Anchors: One is a clone of the Xinhua News Agency's Hao Qiu and delivers the news in Mandarin; the other is modeled on Xinhua newscaster Zhang Zhao and performs in English. It makes sense for news agencies trying to reduce news production costs. It's very flat, very single-paced, it's not got rhythm, pace or emphasis.
"We'll probably keep that although you can see the financial advantages to replacing those very expensive newsreaders with AI robots that never sleep and never require wages".