China unveils AI news anchor, should humans be anxious?

China unveils AI news anchor, should humans be anxious?

The English-speaking "artificial intelligence" anchor for China's Xinhua News Agency made its debut at the fifth World Internet Conference in east China's Zhejiang Province - which began Wednesday and runs until Friday.

A screenshot of Xinhua's first English AI anchor. While one suit-clad anchor presented the news in Chinese, the other did so in English.

The agency says that each of these artificially intelligent anchors can work 24×7 for the website and thus reduce news production costs by improving efficiency.

These anchors are digital composites which read the news in a synthetic voice and are recreated from footage of real human anchors.

Though truly a technological marvel, these AI anchors do have some limitations, like limited range of facial expressions and artificial voice. While the move could be seen as a threat to human journalists' jobs, some appear to welcome the innovation.

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But some experts are skeptical about the kind of news-watching experience an AI news anchor offers.

Think your friends would be interested? If that wasn't enough, the looks and features of the AI anchors are that of real Xinhua news presenters. This AI anchor's face and voice has been designed based on the agency's news anchor, Zhang Zhao. First, the inputs need to be fed to the system for the AI anchor to read out news in a human fashion and the second thing is its commitment to work tirelessly.

But AI anchors may one day challenge the human variety due to their ability to work 24 hours a day provided human editors keep inputting text into the system.

The developments came after China published its "Next Generation Artificial Intelligence (AI) Development Plan" previous year, which stipulates that the country should ultimately become the world leader in AI by 2030.

This year's version, however, was more muted and has a less glitzy global lineup, even as battle lines for control of the web have hardened amid a biting trade war between China and the United States.

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