Xinhua is boasting that their new artificial intelligence news anchor is a world's first and that "he" is now considered a regular member of the reporting team and, even better, never needs a break.
At the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China, the country's state-run news agency, Xinhua, unveiled the "world's first AI news anchor", which was created in collaboration with local search engine company Sogou. "'He' learns from live broadcasting videos by himself and can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor", Xinhua reported.
File footage of human anchor Zhang Zhao forms the base layer over which animated mouths and other facial features are placed to produce twin AI anchors; one Chinese-speaking and the other catering to English-speaking audiences. But there's one difference: While human anchors work eight hours everyday, their AI clones can report news tirelessly 24/7.
"He" has the voice and facial expressions of a man and can imitate a real person.
The agency points out that they may be particularly useful for disseminating breaking news reports in a timely manner. One would imagine that TV news anchors, for example, wouldn't be threatened by advancing technology, but it seems that might not be the case.
"It's quite hard to watch for more than a few minutes", University of Oxford Professor Michael Wooldridge told the BBC. "It's very flat, very single-paced, it's not got rhythm, pace or emphasis", Prof Wooldridge told the BBC.
"If you're just looking at animation you've completely lost that connection to an anchor", he said.
It was a "good first effort", however, said Noel Sharkey, emeritus professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield.
"We will see it improve over time".