Minor Fake News Alert! – 13 Nov 18
China’s first “AI” news anchor – Web
Ground breaking AI news anchor technology? Or not?
(Image: Screenshot from “AI” News anchor announcement)
We got suspicious when the AI news anchor said “I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted”. The “AI” terminology is a bit misleading.
How did we do our research?
We consulted our writers who studies AI and machine learning. We read many articles on the topic from both Chinese and English news sites. Lastly, we studied the official announcement carefully.
China just announced its first AI news anchor. It was a joint effort from Xinhua news and Sogou search engine. In the video, you see an animated figure based on real news anchors introducing itself in a robotic voice. There are 2 videos, 1 in Chinese and the other 1 in English. Now, we are here to clear up the misunderstanding of the “AI” part. When we first heard the news, we thought the AI would crawl through news sites and using deep learning to compose original new reports. Basically, there will be no need for writers or anchors. The AI would take care of everything.
However, it turns out the “AI” is nothing more than glorified text to speech system. Turns out, the “AI” is for composing the voice by taking samples from existing video clips of real news anchors. It is also used to simulate the mouth movements to match the voice clips. The end result isn’t exactly state of the art. The mono toned robotic voice and subpar animation gets annoying after a while.
It still requires writers, but it does replace news anchors. As long as there is text feed to the “AI”, it could report the news nonstop. So, the “AI” technology used in this case is quite basic. It can be achieved with 3D animation software. It automatically produces 3D models and animations to create a virtual news anchor. But it still needs people to feed it texts. In other words, it is a glorified text to speech system with animated news anchor.
Conclusion, we wouldn’t see it as some ground breaking technology. So the title “AI” News anchor is indeed a bit misleading.