Goodbye humans, China gets a virtual TV news anchor

China’s AI news anchor introduces himself and presents news reports

China’s AI news anchor introduces himself and presents news reports

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

Xinhua developed the AI news anchors in cooperation with the Chinese search engine company Sogou.

The anchors premiered on Wednesday at the World Internet Conference in China.

According to the videos, the looks and features of the English-speaking anchor are based on the flesh-and-blood Xinhua news presenter Zhang Zhao, while the Chinese version is modelled on fellow Xinhua presenter Qiu Hao.

"AI anchors have officially become members of Xinhua's reporting team", the publication said in its report, adding, "Together with other anchors, they will bring you authoritative, timely and accurate news information in Chinese and English".

"Xinhua said the new digital presenters "[learn] from live broadcasting videos" by themselves.

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A more immediately worrying aspect is that virtual news readers could be yet another step down the route of delivering fake news and propaganda.

But Noel Sharkey, emeritus professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, called it a "good first effort".

The AI anchors are the latest in an ongoing trend towards global digitization across several industries, outside of news, given that we already have the holographic pop star Hatsune Miku, not to mention the equally freaky CGI Instagram models Bermuda and Lil Miquela. The AI news anchor also assures that he will "work tirelessly" and read out news without any interruptions.

China's state news agency this week unveiled the world's first virtual newsman. This can reduce news production costs and improve efficiency during breaking news reports.

Newsrooms have increasingly implemented AI technology in recent years, with outlets including The Washington Post using AI to write short reports on such topics as the outcome of sporting events or to send news alerts.

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