Chinese news agency Xinhua’s first English Artificial Intelligence news anchor makes debut

China has debuted its first Artificial Intelligence (AI) news anchor on the internet Wednesday. The anchor resembles a male human anchor with the voice and facial expressions of a real person. It can read news in a synthesised voice, which is designed to sound like a professional human anchor.

The world’s first AI news anchor has been created by China’s Xinhua new agency in collaboration with Chinese search engine company Sogou.

Two AI news anchors that can read news in English as well as Mandarin were unveiled at the fifth World Internet Conference in China’s Zhejiang province.

According to reports from South China Morning Post and Xinhua, the news anchors will reduce the cost of daily TV news report due to their ability to work 24 hours a day. The AI TV anchor is also said to improve efficiency as it can quickly generate breaking news, as opposed to humans.

The anchor takes advantage of AI technology to combine images and voices of human anchors to deliver news with “the same effect” as human anchors.

The machine learning (ML) programme can generate lip movements, facial expressions, among other things similar to that of a human news anchor. Both the English and Mandarin news reading AI anchors are available across Xinhua’s internet and mobile platforms, which includes its Mandarin and English apps as well as online TV webpage.

“Xinhua said the achievement was a “breakthrough in the field of global AI synthesis”, pioneering the synthesis of real-time audio and video with AI-created anchors in the news field. Search engine Sogou, which also does research and development in AI, is providing the underlying technology for the project,” South China Morning Post reported.

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