I have a strong urge to tag this post with “weird” because, seeing and hearing a life-like artificial intelligence (AI) news anchors spitting out news is beyond weird. You read that right. As of today, AI anchors is a thing and China’s state-run news agency Xinhua is the first in the world to ‘employ’ not one, but two AI anchors. The anchors, officially known as “AI Synthetic Anchors,” are modeled after the agency’s human anchors, but with voices, facial expressions and lip movements animated and synthesized using deep learning techniques.
One AI anchor joins the Chinese news team while the other, modeled after anchor Zhang Zhao, reports with the Xinhua English news team. You can see a short clip of AI version of Zhang Zhao introducing himself in the video below. Speaking of the video, you can see that, while everything works as it should, the result is not quite life-like. If you scrutinized it closely, the lip movements are clearly artificial and more obviously, the voice is way too robotic. But hey, it is a start. I am sure it will be more polished as technology in this field advances.
Anywho, with these AI anchors, they could work “tirelessly” for 24 hours a day. All they need are editors to input the news and they are pretty much all set to deliver news. It is Xinhua’s way reducing production costs while at the same boosting timeliness of news delivery. The AI anchors, which are developed with China search engine company Sogou, was officially unveiled at the 5th World Internet Conference on the day the agency celebrated its 87 years in existence.
Xinhua’s AI anchors are already on the job and they can be found both Chinese and English version of the Xinhua app, Xinhua’s WeChat pubic account, Xinhua’s Weibo, and more.
Source: Gigazine [JP].