AI News: An AI News Anchor in China
Last week, China’s state-owned Xinhua News Agency introduced automated news anchors which combine the images and voices of their human counterparts with artificial intelligence technology. In a statement, Xinhua said,
“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 ...
"[AI anchor can] work 24 hours a day on our official website and various social media platforms, reducing news production costs and improving efficiency.”
In a demonstration at China’s annual World Internet Conference, an AI anchor said,
“Not only can I accompany you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I can be endlessly copied and present at different scenes to bring you the news ...
"The development of the media industry calls for continuous innovation and deep integration with the international advanced technologies … I look forward to bringing you brand new news experiences ...
"I, who was wholly cloned from a real-life host, have mastered broadcasting as well as the real host,
“As long as I am provided with text, I can speak as a news host … As an AI news anchor under development, I know that there is a lot for me to improve."
Note: Xinhua worked with Sogou, Inc. to develop the news anchor platform. Sogou is based Beijing, had revenues of $907 million in 2017 and is owned by Tencent (42%) and Sohu (36%).
After viewing the AI news anchors, their motions seem rigid and the voice a bit robotic. Providing a better AI experience likely does not require any technology break-through. The solution may be using better integration and development resources.
These "news anchors" demonstrate another AI use case and the approach can be applied in other areas such as entertainment, education/training, customer service and medical therapy.
As Xinhua's AI news anchors improve, it will be interesting to see the impact on news anchors at other organizations globally and the salaries of celebrity anchors in the US, that are paid $50 million a year or more.