China’s state-owned Xinhua News Agency has developed a new AI News Anchor that can deliver headlines 24 hours a day.
According to news reports, the new – AI News Anchor are digital composites developed from footage of human hosts who read the news using synthesized voice. It can read out the text by mimicking the voice as well as the image of real human presenter.
Xinhua reported that AI news anchor is a realistic-looking man, dressed in suit, and can read the text as profoundly as professional news host. However, in its debut at the fifth World internet Conference in east China’s Zhejiang Province, the AI newsreader presented a robotic voice and an awkward delivery.
Although it is not clear what technology is incorporated in the creation of the anchors, Verge reported, they are in line with the latest machine learning research. Chinese tech giant and the nation’s second biggest search engine ‘Sogou’ was involved in the development of the system.
The AI anchor has been modelled on a human Xinhua newsreader, Zhang Zhao, which synthesizes his voices, lip movements, and facial expressions. It can deliver news or read out scripts fed into the system by the writers.
Although the news agency claims that the AI anchor learns from live broadcasting by itself, several news reported, it did not appear to be artificially intelligent as it reads only pre-typed text.
The developers said that the anchors possess endless prospects and can easily generate news reports for its web, TV, and mobile output. Further, it can improve efficiency and lower news production costs by working throughout the day on its website and different social media platforms.
While it delivered an introductory speech in English language, the companies are developing another anchor, modelled on different human presenter to read headlines in Chinese. The agency also plans to use the technology for reading breaking news.
However, Michael Wooldridge, professor of Computer Science at Oxford University told BBC that the AI anchor is very flat, single-paced, it has got no rhythm, pace, or emphasis and was difficult to watch it for over a few minutes.
On the other hand, several news reported that machine learning research is making rapid improvements and it’s not hard to imagine a future where AI newsreaders are indistinguishable from real ones.