China's state-run news agency has welcomed two additions to its team of journalists – two newsstands powered by artificial intelligence (AI).
Dressed in suits and ties, AI news readers can learn to read live broadcast videos and texts just as naturally as a professional news anchor, Xinhua said.
The digital doubles were modeled after the journalists of the agency, the English-speaking anchor Zhang Zhao and his Chinese-language counterpart Qiu Hao, and were jointly developed by Xinhua and search engine Sogou.com.
Tell the difference: China & # 39; s state-run news agency Xinhua unveiled its first AI anchor (right) based on one of these human presenters Qiu Hao (left)
The AI anchors were jointly developed by Xinhua and search engine company Sogou.com
The two AI-anchors were first seen in action during the current World World Internet World Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang.
"Hello everybody, I am an English anchor for artificial intelligence. This is my very first day in Xinhua News Agency & # 39 ;, says the presenter in an introductory video.
My voice and appearance are modeled on Zhang Zhao, a real anchor at Xinhua, & # 39; he continued with a somewhat robotic voice.
An AI system has been used to synthesize the voices, lip movements and expressions of the presenter on the basis of those of real presenters.
& # 39; I will continue to work tirelessly to keep you informed, because the texts will be typed into my system continuously & # 39 ;, he added.
Uncanny: an AI system was used to synthesize the voices of the presenters, lip movements and expressions based on those of real Xinhua presenters
The digital doppelganger is modeled after the journalist Zhang Zhao of the bureau
Xinhua said the anchors are available 24 hours a day on the official website and on various social media platforms. This can reduce the production costs of news and improve efficiency while breaking news reports.
Grid users at Chinese microblog site Weibo wondered whether these AI-anchors would replace human reporters.
The voice of the AI is too stiff and it is difficult to make the right breaks during speaking & # 39 ;, according to a highly appreciated comment.
It seems that some normal presenters are being fired & # 39 ;, said another user.
& # 39; What makes this sense? I prefer real human presenters, & # 39; said another.
China has in recent years become one of the leading global centers for AI development. Various areas such as finance, healthcare and manufacturing have adopted systems for learning machines for commercial use.
Automating workplaces in China with AI could add 0.8 to 1.4 per cent annually to the growth of gross domestic product (GDP), depending on the speed of acceptance, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report.