As China Daily, another arm of China's state media, reported on the new "AI anchor": "The push comes as part of Chinese efforts to develop the AI sector". Xinhua started using the AI anchor in its broadcast Thursday as well as in a separate Chinese-language version modeled on another presenter.
Xinhua developed the AI news anchors in cooperation with the Chinese search engine company Sogou.
Though truly a technological marvel, these AI anchors do have some limitations, like limited range of facial expressions and artificial voice.
There's a reason this news anchor seemed a bit robotic.
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In an introductory video, the software says: "I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted. I look forward to bringing you the brand new news experiences", the AI anchor said, hinting at two things here. Here, he introduces himself as being based on a real anchor named Zhang Zhao. The state-run news agency considers the AI anchors to be members of its reporting team. And compared to a trusted human news anchor, he says that "if you're just looking at animation you've completely lost that connection to an anchor".
Xinhua didn't immediately return HuffPost's request for comment on what its long-term plans are for the AI anchor or what it means for the news agency's staff, including the actual human presenter it's modeled after.
The newsreaders are created to work 24 hours a day, provided human editors keep feeding them information, according to the South China Morning Post.
The developments came after China published its "Next Generation Artificial Intelligence (AI) Development Plan" past year, which stipulates that the country should ultimately become the world leader in AI by 2030. For example, the Post has used a bot system called Heliograf to automatically write text that humans can add to for breaking news events such as elections and the Olympics.