The worry that artificial intelligence will replace traditional jobs has been around for a long time. But some professions are safer than others. One of them would be TV news anchors job. People thought that it wouldn’t be threatened by advancing technology. But now it seems that might not be the exceptional case.
AI News Anchor:
China’s state news agency has debuted a virtual anchor designed to be able to deliver the news 24 hours a day.
At the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China, the country’s state-run news agency, Xinhua, unveiled the “world’s first AI news anchor,” which was created in collaboration with local search engine company Sogou.
Xinhua unveiled its “artificial intelligence news anchor” Wednesday at an internet conference in the eastern city of Wuzhen.
The Xinhua news agency said the presenter “can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor”.
“Hello everyone I am an English artificial intelligence anchor. This is my very first day in Xinhau news agency,” said an English-language version of the presenter, modelled on a real reporter with the agency, Zhang Zhao.
The South China Morning Post reports that the two anchors—one for English broadcasts and one for Chinese-language announcements—combine the images and voices of human anchors with artificial intelligence (AI) technology, mixing their speech, lip movements, and facial expressions. While the voice clearly sounds robotic, and the facial expressions leave a lot to be desired. These will likely become more human-like in future iterations.
First Day Of AI Anchor:
A comparison between the machine and his human counterpart reading the headlines in Chinese showed startling similarities which fade as soon as the ‘robot’ anchor opens his mouth and starts speaking.
The news agency said the simulations can be used on its website and social media platforms and will “reduce news production costs and improve efficiency.”
It didn’t say whether any of China’s state-run TV channels have shown interest in acquiring the technology into for usage into the future.
The English-speaking anchor, complete with a suit and tie, is modeled on a real-life Xinhua anchor called Zhang Zhao.
“I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted,” it said in an introductory video. Another Chinese-language version, was also unveiled at the conference which is based on another real-life Xinhua anchor. The system means presenters can work 24-hours a day on its website and social media channels, “reducing production costs”.
“I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted,” said the presenter in an introductory video.
AI News Anchor Feedback:
The agency pointed out that the presenters may be particularly useful for disseminating breaking news reports in a timely manner.
Users of China’s micro-blogging site Weibo were not completely convinced by the virtual presenter.
“(His) voice is too stiff, and there are problems with the pauses,” said one user.
“Apparently, news anchors have to lose their jobs,” said another.
China operates one of the most aggressive media censorship regimes in the world and has tightened restrictions on domestic and foreign news outlets under President Xi Jinping. But that hasn’t stopped its newsrooms from innovating.
Conflict On “First AI Anchor” Tag:
While Xinhua claims the virtual anchor is a world first, it is not the first time that Chinese media has experimented with AI technology.
In 2015, China’s Dragon TV used Microsoft’s XiaoIce chatbot to deliver a weather report on its live breakfast show. The AI computer program delivered the forecast in a “cute” female voice, according to Xinhua. Automated reporting has proliferated in recent years. The Associated Press wire service is just one major news organization that uses sophisticated computer algorithms to write thousands of automated stories a year.
Advanced software programs scrape sources like corporate earnings reports and baseball box scores. Then transform the data into sentences that humans can understand.
Artificial Intelligence is a way of making a computer, a computer-controlled robot, or a software think intelligently. They are so similar in manner the intelligent humans think.
“The science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs”.
AI is accomplished by studying how human brain thinks, and how humans learn, decide, and work while trying to solve a problem. And then using the outcomes of this study as a basis of developing intelligent software.
There are so many more achievements of artificial intelligence in many fields (AI Predicts Alzheimer’s Disease 6 Year In Advance)
Xinhua Official Statement:
“AI anchors have officially become members of the Xinhua News Agency reporting team. They will work with other anchors to bring you authoritative, timely and accurate news information in both Chinese and English,”
The anchors are now available through Xinhua’s distribution platforms. It includes its official Chinese and English apps, WeChat public account, online TV webpage, and two Weibo accounts.
Xinhua says that the technology has “endless prospects”. As it would reduce the cost of producing TV news reports and the digital anchors can work 24 hours a day. It’s hard to imagine these AI news readers ever replacing the professionals. But in a world of virtual celebrities, who knows for certain what the future might hold.