Technology 3 min read

China Unveils The World's First Female AI News Anchor

Image via People's Daily, China

Image via People's Daily, China

In a remarkable step to render human journalism obsolete, state news outlet Xinhua teamed up with search engine Sogou to create the world’s first female AI news anchor.

According to reports, the anchor, Xin Xiaomeng will make her first appearance in March, during the upcoming two sessions political meeting. As far as applying artificial intelligence in journalism goes, China is pushing the boundaries further than ever.

Just four months ago, Xinhua debuted the first male AI News anchor during China’s world internet conference in Wuzhen. But, that was just the beginning. Shortly after, the news outlet revealed that it had been working with Sogou to create an improved male news anchor powered by Artificial Intelligence. Not only could the anchor, Xin Xiaohao, stand and gesticulate, it also had a more natural mouth movement too.

Although we’re only just seeing robots in the news anchor’s chair, Xinhua has been experimenting with AI-driven journalism for years. This includes Jia Jia, a female robot that interviewed Wired Magazine co-founder Kevin Kelly in 2017. As impressive as it was at the time, Jia Jia was still an early model. As such, it was far from perfect.

Jia Jia had a hard time responding naturally to most of the question Kelly asked. Aside from taking as much as 10 seconds to answer a question, the robot only restricted itself to one or two-word answers. Furthermore, the answer didn’t always make sense.

Within the same year, a 1.2-meter tall robot called Inspire served as an intern for Xinhua during the 2017 Two Sessions meeting.

According to a statement from the news agency, the new robot employees not only embraced their role with enthusiasm, but they’ve also been quite productive too. Xinhua reported that since its launch in November, the robot anchors had published over 3,400 reports. That’s over 10,000 minutes in length.

With the rise in AI-driven reporting, journalists should be worried about the threat to their job, right?

Well, not entirely. Most news agencies across the world currently use artificial intelligence for research and analysis purposes only. That way, the reporters can focus on the quality of the story-telling.

In a statement to Forbes, the director of news partnership for The A.P. said:

“The work of journalism is creative, it’s about curiosity, it’s about storytelling, it’s about digging and holding governments accountable, it’s critical thinking, it’s a judgment — and that is where we want our journalists spending their energy.”

Read More: OpenAI’s Text Generator Could Fuel Future Fake News Fire

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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