This is fake news! China's 'AI news anchor' isn't intelligent at all

Gerardo Harmon
November 10, 2018

China is pushing boundaries with its advancements in technological research, the latest being the world's first artificial intelligence news anchor.

It was jointly developed by Xinhua News Agency and Chinese search engine company Sogou.com.

The anchors debuted during China's annual World Internet Conference, which is pitched as the country's very own Davos for technology and futurism, and provide a showcase for China's future plans, whether for the internet or just technology of the future.

The newsreaders are created to work 24 hours a day, provided human editors keep feeding them information, according to the South China Morning Post.

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News editors need to only input a text into the AI Synthetic Anchor system and the AI composite anchor will do the rest.

A Chinese speaking "artificial intelligence" anchor has also been unveiled, with a different face. Xinhua says that the anchors "can work 24 hours a day on its official website and various social media platforms, reducing news production costs and improving efficiency".

Though Xinhua presents the avatars as independently learning from "live broadcasting videos", the avatars do not appear to rely on true artificial intelligence, as they simply read text written by humans.

The anchor, modeled on real-life Chinese news reader Qiu Hao and sporting a black suit and red tie, is part of a major push by China to advance its prowess in AI technology, from surveillance equipment to self-driving cars.

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At that start of its English-language broadcast, the computer-generated host said "Hello" in a robotic voice and added that "you are watching English news program". It's very flat, very single-paced, it's not got rhythm, pace or emphasis.

"Mark my words, AI is far more risky than nukes", were the words of billionaire tech entrepreneur and philanthropist, Elon Musk, and it seems apt to make note of the quote here as Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to grow tremendously.

"The problem is that it could be very boring".

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