China-based news agency Xinhua has introduced the world’s first artificial intelligence (AI) news anchor at the World Internet Conference in China’s Zhejiang province. “The anchor learns from live broadcasting videos by himself and can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor,” the news agency claimed.

“This is my very first day at Xinhua News Agency. I look forward to bringing you the brand new news experiences,” the well-dressed AI anchor opened his speech.

While the technology is impressing millions of people, some disagree about whether the sound and vibe appear natural. It is up to you to decide. The anchor is modelled after one of Xinhua’s real anchor Zhang Zhao.

Equipped with ‘facial landmark localization‘ and ‘face reconstruction‘ technology, the AI anchor embraces photo-like facial features applied to its body template. Chinese search engine firm Sogou.com and Xinhua jointly designed and built the technology.

Reuters reported that there is another version of the AI news anchor, modelled after Qiu Hao, one of Xinhua’s human reporters. However, the Sogou staff said that they are not yet finalized with the utilization of the technology and replacing human anchors as of now.

Last month, world’s first Artificially Intelligence generated portrait garnered $432,500 (around ₹3,17,39,000) at an auction event called Christie’s in New York.

The news agency recounted some of the advantages of the new AI technology saying that it can work 24 hours a day without taking any leaves or getting tired. This will reduce the news production costs and improve efficiency. It could save media networks capital which is currently spent on news anchor’s salaries.

“It’s quite difficult to watch for more than a few minutes. It’s very flat, very single-paced, it’s not got a rhythm, pace or emphasis,” Michael Wooldridge from the University of Oxford told the BBC. And compared to a trusted human news anchor, he says that “if you’re just looking at animation you’ve completely lost that connection to an anchor.”

The news is amusing some actual news presenters. Here is a video clip of reporters from AajTak surprised and amazed by the new technology.

According to The Washington Post, the AI anchor is devoid of any decision-making skills and cannot add an emotional element to the presented stories as given by a real journalist.

Use of artificial intelligence by news agencies and online media portals is growing rapidly. The Post currently uses a bot system called Heliograf to write texts that humans can add to for breaking news events like the Olympics or elections.

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