China's State Media Is Training 'AI Anchors' to Read Its News

A screengrab from the video posted by Xinhua News Agency featuring an AI TV anchor

This is my very first day in Xinhua News Agency, ' says the presenter in an introductory video.

According to the, an English-language anchor and a Chinese-language anchor were created by Xinhua in partnership with local Beijing search engine company Sogou.

The digital news anchor itself is also based off a real life news Xinhua news anchor named Zhang Zhao.

An artificial intelligence (AI) system has been used to synthesise the presenters' voices, lip movements and expressions.

News editors need to only input a text into the AI Synthetic Anchor system and the AI composite anchor will do the rest. This version can read the news, uninterrupted, 24/7.

"He has become a member of (our) reporting team and can work 24 hours a day on (our) official website and various social media platforms, reducing news production costs and improving efficiency", reports Xinhua.

He said it was a "good first effort".

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"Honestly, it's much better and more impressive than I expected, however there is no natural cadence in his delivery and that contributes to a lack of authenticity".

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"I look forward to bringing you the brand new news experiences", the AI anchor said, hinting at two things here.

The anchor takes advantage of AI technology to combine images and voices of human anchors to deliver news with "the same effect" as human anchors.

But in the face of this possible reality, he admits the public may not buy into it wholeheartedly.

Though truly a technological marvel, these AI anchors do have some limitations, like limited range of facial expressions and artificial voice.

China's news outlets are already subject to a lot of state control and censorship, so the ability to have virtual news readers to effectively do exactly what it's told is certainly an eyebrow-raising concept.

China has become one of the leading global hubs for AI development in recent years.

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