China’s state-controlled news broadcasters have long been considered somewhat Autonomous Within their daily recitation of pro-government propaganda plus a pair of new presenters will do little to dispel that view.
Calling it a”world first”, Xinhua news service this week surfaced a set of virtual news anchors amid a state-directed embrace of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI).
Based on the appearances of two flesh-and-blood Chinese news presenters, the computerised avatars read out text that’s fed into their approach, their mouths moving in tandem using the accounts.
Xinhua said the”AI Synthetic Anchors”, one for Chinese and one for English news, were developed together with Sogou, a Beijing-based founder of search engines and voice-recognition technology.
China last year unveiled plans to become a world leader in AI and other high-tech fields, though it has since toned down the rhetoric amid a trade war with the United States, that has included accusations by President Donald Trump that China steals US technology.
The electronic anchors offer certain benefits over humans, Xinhua said, such as being able to work 24 hours each day and to quickly disseminate breaking news.
“The AI Synthetic Anchor has formally become part of their Xinhua reporting team. He’ll work with other anchors to deliver you authoritative, timely and accurate news and information in Chinese and English,” Xinhua said.
The anchors have appeared on some Xinhua online and social networking merchandise, but it wasn’t immediately clear how extensively they would be employed by the bureau.
Rather than true AI, however, the Xinhua presenters merely react to text that is fed into their systems, ” the bureau stated. Authentic AI involves machines which could think, make decisions and do it on their own.
The avatars debuted this week during the World Internet Conference, an annual conference in the eastern Chinese city of Wuzhen organised by China’s government.