Time to drop anchors…


Mention CNN and the faces of its top news anchors will spring to mind. But could artificial intelligence render their role obsolete?

Xinhua news agency seems to think so after creating the world’s first female news reader. Called Xin Xiaomeng, she will make her “professional debut” reading the news during the upcoming ‘two meetings’ of the country’s national leglislature and political consultative body this month.

The AI anchor was created in collaboration with search engine Sogou. Based on images Xinhua has released, she looks like a typical newscaster and is also said to have convincingly real facial expressions.

Alongside Xin the news agency announced an updated model of male equivalent Xin Xiaohao, who can stand up and gesticulate. An earlier version was seen in November at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen. “I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted,” he explained helpfully in an introductory video.

Xinhua says that increased use of AI will bring down production costs. But perhaps the real upside for Beijing is that artificial anchors don’t veer off script.

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