Thursday, November 8th 2018

Chinese State News Agency Debuts AI-powered Anchor for 24/7 Automated News Coverage

So, this doesn't really concern hardware, but alas, all advances - and particularly AI-related ones - are powered by the little silicon chips that could. This time, and in a move that really does bode towards the future of news coverage, Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, unveiled the "world's first AI news anchor," which was created in collaboration with local search engine company Sogou. There are actually two independent versions of the same anchor - one for news coverage in English, and another for Mandarin.

The AI-infused anchors fuse the image and voice profiles of actual human anchors with artificial intelligence (AI) technology, which powers their speech, lip movements, and facial expressions, alongside reading, absorbing, and curating content that's then posted as video snippets generated by the AI. There is some work to be done until the result is actually indistinguishable from that of actual humans - but do we ever want AI renditions that are indistinguishable from humans? There are a number of problems that could arise from such an achievement, after all. But maybe that's a conversation for another day.

The anchors are available through Xinhua's distribution platforms, including its official Chinese and English apps, WeChat public account, online TV webpage, and two Weibo accounts. The overall push for the creation of this AI news anchor has been the ability to work 24 hours a day on its official website and various social media platforms, thus reducing news production costs and improving efficiency. Wouldn't it be ironic if the actual anchor on whose image the Ai is based on found himself sup+superseded by his AI-powered equivalent? A cautionary tale, perhaps. Sources: Xinhua Net, via Techspot
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22 Comments on Chinese State News Agency Debuts AI-powered Anchor for 24/7 Automated News Coverage

#1
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Sounds like they used NOAA's robot voice. Seriously, text to speech technologies have improved significantly. Why do so few use them?
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#2
phanbuey
Aren't newscaster just talking heads that read a teleprompter anyways? What is the machine learning in this case? The translation?

There is no way they are letting it curate content on it's own... it would become what Microsoft's chatbot became in a few hours.
Posted on Reply
#3
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Chat bots go...off the rails...because of interacting with people that deliberately guide them on that path. If it were me, I'd have two separate systems: first analyzes anchor behavior and language attempting to mimic them. Once established, it doesn't really change. Second analyzes non-opinion journalistic content out there and curates them based on constituency expected to consume it. Put the two together and you basically get a 24/7 anchor bot.
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#4
_JP_
I'm imagining this going full Max Headroom when it glitches.
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#5
GoldenX
Man, this is HORRIBLE.
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#6
Paganstomp
In the news today, robots have taking over humanity for the greater good.
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#7
GoldenX
"Paganstomp said:
In the news today, robots have taking over humanity for the greater good.
Glory to Mankind.
Posted on Reply
#8
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
"Paganstomp said:
In the news today, robots have taking over humanity for the greater good.
And it has just began. Robotics, increased automation and "AI" will mean the end of millions of jobs if you listen to people like Bill Gates, which I will do in this case. Why have journalists when you can spin news stories based on TT from a neural network?
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#9
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
You're still going to need journalists to report news on a local level but, nationally? Yeah, information technology can easily replace them.
Posted on Reply
#10
gaximodo
Mandarin/Chinese version is quite a bit better than this. Granted still no where near perfection.

Key difference to "text to voice" is the more realistic facial expressions - I would expect overall application to get better real soon.
Posted on Reply
#11
sepheronx
"_JP_ said:
I'm imagining this going full Max Headroom when it glitches.
The show Max Headroom or the transmission hijacking Max headroom? Anyway jokes aside. I agree with @phanbuey as they just read a teleprompter anyway. So all they have to do is just have a computer read out the news from whatever they type out.

Now reading it with Microsoft Sam voice, would be entertaining.
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#12
R-T-B
"Frick said:
And it has just began. Robotics, increased automation and "AI" will mean the end of millions of jobs if you listen to people like Bill Gates, which I will do in this case. Why have journalists when you can spin news stories based on TT from a neural network?
Universal income theory plays into this. It's something I've been thinking about designing a cryptocurrency around. Interesting stuff.
Posted on Reply
#13
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
"R-T-B said:
Universal income theory plays into this. It's something I've been thinking about designing a cryptocurrency around. Interesting stuff.
Aye it does and I really hope that concept is something that will take off. It requires a huge shift in thinking though, it's a perversion of the american dream amd even in socialist heaven Sweden it would be met with gargantan resistance even if it would be proved it actually saved money (which I - without any evidence - totally think it would seeing as how much work and money is currently spent on social security).
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#14
Konceptz
Deus Ex: Human Revolution ring any bells?
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#16
rtwjunkie
PC Gaming Enthusiast
I can see this as the beginning of the future, but not for any amount of money can I listen to that voice!! I deliberately skip YouTube vids that use that, even if it’s an interesting subject. It’s enough to make people jump out of 37th floor windows.
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#17
Prima.Vera
"Konceptz said:
Deus Ex: Human Revolution ring any bells?
Deus Ex 2 aka Deus Ex: Invisible War was way better and had the A.I. anchor woman better positioned as a character.
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#20
R0H1T
"GoldenX said:
Glory to Mankind.
Glory to robotkind. Anyway between this & the other news (from way back) about that guard(bot) who took a plunge in the fountain I think it's safe to safe that the Matrix reality is centuries away. But it is coming alright, if the not the bots then surely the aliens will take us :ohwell:
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#22
skates
You wish it was Max Headroom. This is much worse.
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