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China debuts the world's first AI news presenter

09 November 2018

Although other countries have toyed with animated or even robot newscasters, Xinhua claims this is the world's first AI news anchor that has the capability to improve itself over time through machine learning.

China's state-owned Xinhua News Agency introduced so-called "composite anchors" on Wednesday, combining the images and voices of human anchors with artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

He also pointed out that human news presenters have traditionally - in many cases - become highly trusted public figures. This AI anchor's face and voice has been designed based on the agency's news anchor, Zhang Zhao.

"I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted", "he" said in a monotonic voice as part of an introductory video.

"We've already had President Trump say things are fake news when it's been caught on camera and we no longer can trust what we see with our eyes unless you were there in person you cannot trust that it actually happened anymore", Walsh said.

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

"AI anchors have officially become members of the Xinhua News Agency reporting team". Xinhua started using the AI anchor in its broadcast Thursday as well as in a separate Chinese-language version modeled on another presenter. It can read news in a synthesised voice, created to sound like a professional human anchor. The AI will have "endless outputs", Xinhua says, given that they can "work 24 hours a day on its official website and various social media platforms" - provided that a human editor can supply them with the copy, that is.

The idea behind an AI newsreader is that news can be delivered 24/7 without suffering spiralling production costs. "It's very flat, very single-paced, it's not got rhythm, pace or emphasis", Prof Wooldridge told the BBC.

China debuts the world's first AI news presenter