Xinhua AI anchor Photo: iStock

Some new faces joined the lineup of news presenters for China’s state news agency Xinhua earlier this month and will allegedly be on standby to broadcast breaking news or relay messages from China’s top leadership around the clock.

One of them is Xin Xiaomeng, touted by Xinhua as the world’s first female artificial-intelligence – or AI – anchor.

Xin was created with help from engineers and programmers at news portal Sohu. She takes on the appearance of Qu Meng, a female news host with Xinhua in the real world. In fact, Xin’s look and voice were so lifelike that few noticed that she was just a digitalized AI version of her human counterpart.

Xin introduced herself to Xinhua’s viewers in a short clip, announcing that she will make her professional debut as a news anchor in March. She will be tasked with reading out news reports about the upcoming annual parliamentary sessions in Beijing to be held next month.

Meanwhile, other advances in AI technology have evidently allowed these AI anchors to stand up while reading out news and they will also have more synced lip movement, gestures and subtle facial expressions like a wink or a frown, on the strength of machine learning. Xin will also nod her head when making a point.

And of course, Xin will never miss a cue, and never stutter.

The announcement of Xinhua’s first female AI news anchor comes just three months after the agency revealed two male versions, which have since presented over 3,400 news reports totalling over 10,000 minutes in length, according to the news agency.

But not everyone is impressed. Some netizens say this is just Xinhua’s new trick and form for old-style propaganda.

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