China’s Xinhua news agency says creepy news anchors will help save production costs.
China’s state news agency has unveiled two rather sharply dressed AI news anchors utilizing synthesized voices to ”read” the news.
The virtual newsreaders have been programmed to read the news at a faster pace than obtains with traditional CGI, albeit in a robotic voice. An artificial intelligence (AI) system has been used to synthesize the presenters’ voices, lip movements and expressions.
Xinhua appears to have used footage of human anchors as a base layer, then animated parts of the mouth and face to create the so-called newscasters.
The two anchors cover the necessary bases – one is targeted towards the English audience, while the other one is for the Chinese. The digital puppets are the result of a collaboration between the news agency and Sogou, a local search engine company.
According to Xinhua News, the presenters “can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor.” Many beg to differ. “I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted,” said the English presenter in an introductory video.
Xinhua says the presenters can “work” 24 hours a day on its website and social media channels, “reducing news production costs.” According to the news agency, the AI presenters may prove particularly useful for reporting breaking news reports on time.
The artificial voice and the limited range of facial expressions are the first drawbacks. Also, the human newscasters actually interact with their audience and in most cases, have a followership, and those who consider them trustworthy sources of news. For now, the AI newscasters may offer entertainment value, although those behind the technology assure that it will improve in the future.