China has proven why it is one the leaders of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Chinese state news agency Xinhua last week introduced the world’s first Artificial Intelligence (AI) news anchors. The 4IR entails the confluence of technologies that are blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres, commonly referred to as cyber-physical systems. It will change the way we live, work and play with disruptive technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI).
According to Xinhua the AI news anchor will “report tirelessly all day every day, from anywhere in the country.” The AI news anchor resembled a regular news anchor, wearing a red tie and pin-striped suit. The AI even made human gestures like nodding his head in emphasis, blinking and raising his eyebrows slightly.
The news agency also introduced an English-speaking AI, based on another presenter. The AI said in its first news broadcast “The development of the media industry calls for continuous innovation and deep integration with the international advanced technologies … I look forward to bringing you brand new news experiences.”
The AI news anchors were developed by Xinhua and the Chinese search engine, Sogou. It was developed through machine learning to simulate the voice, facial movements, and gestures of real-life broadcasters, to present “a lifelike image instead of a cold robot,” according to state news agency, Xinhua.
According to figures from the International Federation of Robots, China is already the biggest shareholder of the robotic global market at a net worth of R 420bn. The Chinese Construction Bank opened the world’s human-free bank in May this year with robots interfacing with humans. The robots talk to customers, takes bank cards and checks accounts, can answer basic questions and com with a comprehensive PIN pad. China has also been utilizing robots as waiters in the hospitality sector.