China’s Xinhua unveils the world’s first AI news anchor

A screengrab from the video posted by Xinhua News Agency featuring an AI TV anchor

"He" as he's known, is the world's first artificial news anchor.

China's state-run Xinhua News Agency unveiled a deeply creepy artificial intelligence news anchor on Wednesday at the government's World Internet Conference tech expo.

In an introductory video, the software says: "I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted".

Sogou, a Chinese search engine, was involved in the system's development.

There is also a Chinese-speaking version with a different face. Its limited range of motion and expressions becomes repetitive after a short time, while its gray crisp suit and perfectly coiffed hair are even more rigid than human cable news hosts.

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Xinhua said the anchors are available to work 24 hours a day on its official website and various social media platforms. I prefer real human presenters, ' another said. It appears that photo-like facial features have been applied to a body template and animated.

Michael Wooldridge, a Professor at the University of Oxford, said the result is mixed. In a country where the press is heavily censored, one wonders if China has more ambitious plans to roll out more virtual news anchors, replacing human ones who might not always toe the party line.

"It's quite hard to watch for more than a few minutes", University of Oxford Professor Michael Wooldridge told the BBC.

The real newsreader is on the left and the artificial intelligence is on the right.

"If you're just looking at animation you've completely lost that connection to an anchor", he added. China's news outlets are already subject to a lot of state control and censorship, so the ability to have virtual news readers to effectively do exactly what it's told is certainly an eyebrow-raising concept.

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