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China Just Introduced The World’s First A.I. News Anchor Who Can Broadcast 24 Hours A Day ?

Xinhua's first AI Anchor makes its debut/Screenshot YouTube

China’s official state-run news agency, Xinhua, debuted an English-speaking digital “AI anchor” this week—and people are understandably totally freaked out.

Developed jointly with Chinese search engine company and shown for the first time at the fifth annual World Internet Conference this week in east China’s Zhejiang Province, the “English Artificial Intelligence Anchor” resembles the real live Xinhua television anchor Zhang Zhao on whom its appearance, facial expression, and voice are based.

Watch their conference promo video:

Though some outlets have said “the agency’s new host isn’t any more sophisticated than a CGI puppet,” the station insists that using the latest in AI technology make these digital composites more than just virtual news anchors.

According to Xinhua, the anchor you see in the video above “learns from live broadcasting videos by himself and can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor.”

The anchors are also considered official “members of its reporting team and can work 24 hours a day on its official website and various social media platforms…”

Xinhua believes this type of technology has “endless prospects” and is highlighting the reduced production costs and increased working hours the AI can provide.

Reactions on Twitter were of the epic variety:

With many wanting no part of it…

…and some wondering how all this will affect the nature of the free press:

Mostly, however, people see it as a sign that the end is nigh:

But at least one person was already onboard:

Though it reminded us of a little something we saw floating around back in the ’80s:

H/T: TwitterXinhua


Written by Vanessa Nix Anthony

Vanessa is a freelance-flame-haired-word-ninja-for-hire with a passion for storytelling. Her writing has been featured in The Oregonian, Baltimore Magazine, Oregonlive, KPTV, Metro Parent, and Trulia, among others. She’s the author of the Amazon title, “In Less than a Year,” and her successful Portland-based copywriting agency, The Portland Writer has been helping businesses tell their brand’s unique stories for over a decade. When she’s not writing, cooking, or making magical worlds out of cardboard for her son, Vanessa is hard at work illustrating her forthcoming children’s books or belting out karaoke to favorite 80s or Disney villains tunes. TWITTER: @nessnix, INSTA: @nessnixtony