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Screenshot 2018-11-10 15.11.30
courtesy of China Xinhua News

A Chinese news agency has developed an AI anchor

The English AI Anchor had its ‘first day’ on Thursday

Every week it seems like we’re entering deeper into the age of AI. We’ve got AI singer-songwriters, CGI influencers such as Lil Miquela, and bots are even learning to dress themselves (although it’s all still a bit awkward). Now, a Chinese news agency is edging us just one step closer to the singularity with what they call a “world first”: an AI news anchor.

Do we need less humans and more robots in the news business? Well, the answer is irrelevant: the state-run Xinhua News Agency already unveiled their “English AI Anchor” at the World Internet Conference on Thursday, in China.

The anchor – developed with Chinese search engine – is modelled on the agency’s Zhang Zhao presenter and works through machine learning technologies, “learning” from live broadcasts. Obviously, it also has the benefit of being able to cover stories 24 hours a day, though this does raise the familiar questions about how many jobs it could potentially replace.

“He” reports independently on social media and the Xinhua website; multiple posts have been made to the Xinhua News Twitter, along with a reveal of a similar Chinese-speaking AI news anchor. The anchors “can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor,” according to the company. Well, we’ll leave that up to viewers to decide. As the English AI Anchor says himself: “As an AI anchor under development I know there is a lot for me to improve.”