China's Xinhua debuts an "AI anchor" to read the news, developed with Sogou

China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua, has debuted what it’s calling the “world’s first AI news anchor” at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China.

Xinhua developed the technology in collaboration with Sogou, a Chinese search engine company, utilizing machine learning to synthesize lip movements, facial expressions, and voice, in real time. Xinhua says that the AI anchor can work 24 hours a day, provided there are human editors available to feed it with the text.

This isn’t being limited as a tech demo either; as reported by the South China Morning Post, Xinhua intends to use the technology across its internet and mobile platforms:

AI anchors have officially become members of the Xinhua News Agency reporting team. They will work with other anchors to bring you authoritative, timely and accurate news information in both Chinese and English.

Xinhua says that the technology has “endless prospects” as it will help the agency reduce the cost of production and the time it takes to deliver breaking news.

Still, the technology appears to have its limitations, as is evident by the video above. Voice is certainly a clear give away, but lip movements and facial expressions also don’t seem to be quite there just yet. Xinhua will be using the technology for reading news in both English and Chinese, though, so perhaps one is better than the other.

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