China’s state news agency Xinhua has introduced the newest members of there news anchor team and it’s not a human, it’s an AI-powered virtual avatar, the AI news anchor is a virtual newsreader who can deliver news all day, from anywhere in the country.
The name of Xinhua’s Artificial Intelligence powered news anchor is Qiu Hao. Qiu Hao is a lifelike digitized reporter who can read out text by mimicking the image and voice of a real human presenter to create the same effect that a real human news anchor creates.
Xinhua introduces there AI news anchor firstly at the World Internet Conference, an event that meant to be China’s Davos for the tech sector as well as a platform for China’s vision of the internet in the country’s eastern Zhejiang Province.
The AI news anchor appears wearing a red tie and pin-striped suit, nods his head in emphasis, blinking and raising his eyebrows slightly. Along with the Chinese speaking version, the English-speaking version of this AI was also get broadcasted.
“The development of the media industry calls for continuous innovation and deep integration with the international advanced technologies,” the AI anchor said in his first broadcast.
“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.”
To build Qiu Hao, the AI news anchor, Xinhua and the Chinese search engine Sogou.com came in partnership.
The AI news anchor was developed through machine learning to simulate the voice, facial movements, and gestures of real-life broadcasters, to present “a lifelike image instead of a cold robot,” according to Xinhua.
The machine learning system used the base image of a real newscaster, for recreating realistic speech patterns and facial movements akin to human counterparts. The effect is similar to that of a digital puppet, a synthesized voice emits news scripts from an almost-human visage.
The AI new anchor was get trained on live broadcasting videos, so to teach the algorithm how to speak. The machine learning systems can be customized to different clients in other industries.
Wang Xiaochuan, the head of Sogou, gave the example of a popular book reading app, Uncle Kai. “In the future, it could be your parents telling the story,” he said in an interview.
The AI anchor has been modeled on Zhang Zhao, a human Xinhua presenter, and will read out scripts fed to it by writers. The companies have developed a second anchor, modeled on a different human presenter, to read headlines in Chinese.
According to Xinhua, the AI technology is not limited to news presenting, “I, who was wholly cloned from a real-life host, have mastered broadcasting as well as the real host,” the Chinese-speaking AI anchor said. “As long as I am provided with text, I can speak like a news host.”