Now, newsreaders who can work for 24 hours, courtesy AI

NEW DELHI: China’s state press agency has unveiled a virtual newsreader designed to deliver headlines 24 hours a day.

Xinhua’s “artificial intelligence news anchor” is a lifelike digitised reporter which can read out text by mimicking the image and voice of a real human presenter.

The agency claims the virtual presenter — a realistic looking man, sharply dressed in a suit — “can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor”.

China’s state press agency has unveiled a virtual newsreader designed to deliver headlines 24 hours a day.

Xinhua’s “artificial intelligence news anchor” is a lifelike digitised reporter which can read out text by mimicking the image and voice of a real human presenter. In an introductory video, it said: “I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted.”

The technology synthesises the human presenter’s speech, lip movements and facial expressions. It was developed jointly by ‘Xinhua’ and Chinese search engine Sogou.

The companies have developed a second anchor, modelled on a different human presenter, to read headlines in Chinese.

Xinhua said the robotic anchors “can work 24 hours a day on its official website and various social media platforms, reducing news production costs and improving efficiency”.

The agency said the technology could be particularly useful for breaking news.

But Michael Wooldridge, professor of computer science at the University of Oxford, said the AI anchor was “quite difficult to watch for more than a few minutes”.

“It’s very flat, very single paced, it’s not got rhythm, pace or emphasis,” he told the BBC.

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