Computers

Real "fake news": China introduces AI news anchor

Real "fake news": China introd...
The digital avatar can work 24 hours a day, instantly reciting whatever script it is fed
The digital avatar can work 24 hours a day, instantly reciting whatever script it is fed
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The digital avatar can work 24 hours a day, instantly reciting whatever script it is fed
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The digital avatar can work 24 hours a day, instantly reciting whatever script it is fed

China's state-run news agency, Xinhua, has revealed it will deploy a new digitally generated newsreader to report the news in both Chinese and English languages. The artificial anchor has been designed to reduce news production costs and increase efficiency, however, the use of the technology by a propagandic state-run news agency brings a new definition to the term "fake news."

The voice and appearance of the digital anchor is based on Chinese newsreader Zhang Zhao and Xinhua News Agency claims "he" can instantly report news as it happens 24 hours a day. The digital anchor is already available on several internet and mobile platforms in the country.

The system, as revealed in several videos recently released, is not exactly the most sophisticated digital character we have seen. Its voice has the undeniable artificial quality of a simplistic computer-generated text-to-speech engine, while the facial expressions and lip movements are unimpressively animated.

World's first AI news anchor makes China debut

However, several other recent digital innovations have clearly demonstrated the massive potential for this kind of technology. From next-generation deepfake video techniques, to realistic voice-imitation systems, the ability to create digital avatars that perfectly resemble real humans is pretty much already here.

Perhaps the most concerning implication of this Chinese experiment is the entirely transparent move towards completely eliminating human personalities from the world of journalism. Media censorship in China is not a new news story, and the country is well-known for suppressing information that is counter to the state's interests. In many ways there isn't a particular difference in having a digital avatar spout the same propagandic scripts that a human anchor would read.

The most chilling thing is that this technology allows the government to openly create artificial human puppets that can parrot whatever they want without even offering the pretense of human journalistic credibility. Any semblance of trust that develops between a human newsreader and the general public is not only eliminated, but rendered fundamentally unnecessary. With this development, China is essentially saying it doesn't even need a human face to recite its state-sanctioned messages.

The big question that must now be asked is not how can we distinguish between what is real and what is fake, but whether we even care about the difference? With the rise of CGI Instagram influencers and digital reincarnations of long-dead actors, we are rapidly becoming accustomed to engaging with entirely artificial creations. Is this simply the next logical step in that process? The complete realization of the concept of "fake news."

Source: Xinhua News Agency

8 comments
Derek Howe
not very well done.
joshua13
This has been done before. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ananova Oddly enough, 18 years latter and we still have the same uncanny valley issues.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
He could do a video for NOAA weather radio!
Wolf0579
I'm sure despotic "governments" everywhere are sitting up and taking notice... an A.I. won't be likely to be able to stand up and walk off set in protest of Government/Corporate propaganda.
EZ
I like it. It's devoid of emotion. I recall the original news casters of many years ago. The reported the news and that was all they did. They didn't try to sway the opinions of the watchers with fake emotion, like what's being done today with the 6 corporations that own all the news outlets. This lack of emotion is what makes people do their own thinking--what a concept!
Robert in Vancouver
Being well over 65, I remember news on TV, radio, and the papers was strictly the news. Reporters read the news word for word, verbatim. News was dug up by reporters in the field and sent to the newsroom, often over a pay phone. Only twice I saw a reporter inject his feelings - when President Kennedy was assassinated and when Neil Armstrong put his foot on the moon. Now I have to watch 3 different channels with opposing political views plus read various online sources to figure out what really happened. But unfortunately, most people just believe the news from one favourite source. And therein lies the problem. Too many mis-informed people.
toyhouse
Differently a work in progress. The poor guy looks like he's suffering from a stroke with his mouth drooping a bit on one side. And he still talks in monotone like a robot. The polar opposite of a narcissistic diva like many of his human counterparts have become. I guess that could be viewed as a promising attribute for some folks. Just make sure to have a cup coffee handy. You'll need it.
YuraG
The Great Firewall of China has been applying AI for ages, if under a different name. We aren’t far from the future when the party and its boss will know the local news and their prearranged sequence to be aired in a month/year. Everything will be under their control, till they get surprised.