World’s first AI news anchor goes on air

Clay Curtis
November 9, 2018

An artificial intelligence (AI) system has been used to synthesise the presenters' voices, lip movements and expressions.

The world's first AI news anchor has been created by China's Xinhua new agency in collaboration with Chinese search engine company Sogou.

After this launch, AI anchors have officially become members of the Xinhua News Agency reporting team.

"This is scary stuff, and arguably I am staring directly at my future replacement", veteran 10 News First newsreader Sandra Sully said of the technology.

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.

Don't adjust your TV set, that's just a new computer-generated news anchor working out the bugs.

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"I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted", the AI anchor said in its debut video at the conference. While human anchors can work up to eight hours a day, their AI clones can report 24 hours a day.

"It's the same technology that's going to be used to make politicians say things that they never said", Professor of artificial intelligence Toby Walsh told 10 daily.

The results looks to be a tad mixed, with AI news presenters looking a little stilted and unnatural, though if we were to stumble in late at night after a skinful and turn on Chinese news, we'd probably be duped by the presenter, at least until we sobered up with some fried chicken and a can of coke.

But, this isn't the first time countries have shown off robot news anchors.

China has become one of the leading global hubs for AI development in recent years. AI has even given human creativity a crack, with a portrait of Edmond de Belamy painted using AI selling for $610,000 at auction in October.

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