A Chinese press agency Xinhua has unveiled an AI anchor for presenting news. The virtual newsreader donning a sharp suit is basically a collection of digital composites created from videos of real human hosts.
Xinhua used the footage of human anchors as the base layer and then animated the facial features to make it a talking AI. The voice used in it is synthesized one.
The digital anchors can be programmed to read news faster than the traditional CGI techniques that are used. According to the South China Morning Post, Xinhua has created two anchors (one for English and the other for Chinese broadcast) in collaboration with a local search engine company Sogou.
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. But this technology has its limitations. For instance, it has a limited range of facial expressions and the voice is clearly artificial.
However, improvements can be made in future to make AI anchors look and sound exactly like real humans. But again, it is a frightening idea in itself, especially in a country like China which is infamous for censoring media and internet.
Creation of fake news readers to suppress news and take control over media sounds chilling. Moreover, what kind of other effects it will have on society is hard to determine.
In any case, with the onslaught of AI beings slowly finding their way into the mainstream occupation, it isn’t hard to imagine that AI anchors could become more than just a novelty.