No jobs are safe from automation — not even reading the news on TV.
China’s state media agency Xinhua just revealed the first “AI anchor” that can talk, move, and act like a real human news anchor. It also revealed an English version of its new AI anchor that you can check out in the video below:
Xinhua created the anchor in collaboration with search engine company Sogou.com. They fed live broadcasting videos to an algorithm to teach the AI anchor to speak. According to a Xinhua blog post, the AI was created to reduce “news production costs,” and improve efficiency.
The anchor’s movement seems very fluid and life-like, and visually it’s really only the mouth that gives away the illusion as The Verge points out.
But the English anchor’s speech leaves a lot to be desired. We’ve seen artificial voices fool humans over the phone before with Google’s Duplex technology — but this particular instance isn’t going to fool anybody. While it’s based on a real English-speaking news anchor, the voice still sounds very robotic, and awkward.
Taking the human element out of news broadcasting might reduce costs, but isn’t bound to make it any more engaging. Listening to a monotonous robot drone on about world trade and politics doesn’t really sound like the utopian future we’re all hoping for.
But considering the speed at which machine learning and AI is developing, it’s not hard to imagine a future where AI anchors are going to be indistinguishable from the real thing — for better or for worse.