If you think local radio and TV aren’t so hot now, just wait until Bell, Rogers and Corus hear about this. China’s state-run press agency has created an ‘AI anchor’ to read the news
Nope, that’s not creepy at all. Nuh uh.
Seriously, even as a guy who listens to screen reader voices all day, this is extremely off putting.
But the prospect of people being replaced by computers even quicker than it’s happening in the present day is the least of our worries here. The much bigger issue is the potential for dangerous regimes like China, Russia, North Korea and the GOP to be able to pump out propaganda basically nonstop. We’re drowning in fake news as it is. This is the last thing anyone needs.
Xinhua, China’s state-run press agency, has unveiled new “AI anchors” — digital composites created from footage of human hosts that read the news using synthesized voices.
It’s not clear exactly what technology has been used to create the anchors, but they’re in line with the most recent machine learning research. It seems that Xinhua has used footage of human anchors as a base layer, and then animated parts of the mouth and face to turn the speaker into a virtual puppet. By combining this with a synthesized voice, Xinhua can program the digital anchors to read the news, far quicker than using traditional CGI.
According to reports from Xinhua and the South China Morning Post, two anchors (one for English broadcasts and one for Chinese) were created in collaboration with local search engine company Sogou. Xinhua says the anchors have “endless prospects” and can be used to cheaply generate news reports for the agency’s TV, web, and mobile output.
Each anchor can “work 24 hours a day on its official website and various social media platforms, reducing news production costs and improving efficiency,” says Xinhua.