China’s Xinhua unveils the world’s first AI news anchor

Watch this creepy AI anchor talk like a real person

Can you tell the difference? First AI newsreader looks UNCANNILY like real deal

It can read news in a synthesised voice, created to sound like a professional human anchor.

The English-speaking "artificial intelligence" anchor for China's Xinhua News Agency made its debut at the fifth World Internet Conference in east China's Zhejiang Province - which began Wednesday and runs until Friday.

The robo-presenters were created in collaboration with a search engine company called Sogou.

The machine learning (ML) programme can generate lip movements, facial expressions etc similar to that of human news anchor. Both are carbon copies of a real-life anchor, Zhang Zhao.

"Hello, you are watching English news program, I'm AI News anchor", the English speaking reader said at the beginning of its first broadcast.

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. He can read news as it is typed out in the teleprompter.

Xinhua said its newest recruits "can work 24 hours a day", allowing it to cut down on production costs.

The anchors are now available through Xinhua's distribution platforms, including its official Chinese and English apps, WeChat public account, online TV webpage, and two Weibo accounts.

But Xinhua appears to know that the anchor is a work in progress, as the AI's sign-off message on its first report emphasized.

Qiu Hao, the Xinhua presenter who provided the prototype for the virtual announcer, said: "It will help us deliver news more effectively but it also poses more challenges to us news announcers".

The agency points out that they may be particularly useful for disseminating breaking news reports in a timely manner. The AI anchor himself acknowledges that the technology is still in development and that many improvements are required.

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