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China's Xinhua Agency ­nveils AI News Presenter

By BBC News

November 12, 2018

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China's Xinhua state news agency has debuted a virtual newsreader that the agency said "can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor."

The construct is one of a number of presenters that report the news in several languages 24 hours a day on Xinhua's website and social media channels.

Xinhua sees the anchors as both a cost-saving tool and a way of breaking news faster.

An artificial intelligence system synthesizes the presenters' voices, lip movements, and expressions, modeled after those of real presenters.

Chinese search engine firm Sogou participated in the system’s development.

Michael Wooldridge at the University of Oxford in the U.K. pointed out that the presenter had difficulty appearing natural, in that the virtual anchor seemed flat, and lacked rhythm, pace, and emphasis. Said Wooldridge, "If you're just looking at animation, you've completely lost that connection to an anchor."

From BBC News
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