China Has Unveiled the World’s First Virtual Reality News Anchor and It’s Sort of Horrifying (Video)
China’s state news agency has developed a robot that could replace television news anchors.
Xinhua state news agency is using artificial intelligence to deliver the news “tirelessly” from all around China, any hour of any day.
The agency is using the anchor simulations to "reduce news production costs and improve efficiency,” according to CNN Business. It was debuted at a conference in China last week.
The English-speaking AI was developed based on a Xinhua anchor named Zhang Zhao. There is also a Chinese-speaking version based off a different anchor.
The network says that the robot "learns from live broadcasting videos by himself and can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor.” The term “naturally” is up for interpretation. While the AI may be able to read off a teleprompter with the best of the anchors, there’s something eerie about a robotic voice relaying the news without any emotion in its voice.
However, just because the anchor has been developed does not mean it will ever reach the air. It is unclear yet whether or not any of China’s TV stations will broadcast the AI newscaster.
Xinhua claims that the AI anchor is the first of its kind, but it’s not the first time that Chinese media have dabbled with artificial intelligence. In 2015, Dragon TV, a station in China, used a Microsoft robot named XiaoIce to deliver the weather forecast in a “cute” female voice.