China's Xinhua news shows off AI news reader

"He" as he's known, is the world's first artificial news anchor.

The AI clones' voices, lip movements and expressions are based on real Chinese presenters, and can deliver news as words are typed into their system.

China's state news agency has unveiled a virtual newsreader sporting a sharp suit and a somewhat robotic voice.

The robo-presenters were created in collaboration with a search engine company called Sogou.

"I look forward to bringing you the brand new news experiences". The programme has been made in English and Chinese.

"He has become a member of (our) reporting team and can work 24 hours a day on (our) official website and various social media platforms, reducing news production costs and improving efficiency", reports Xinhua. Since it's an AI anchor, news is read out in a very monotonous manner with no expressions in between.

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This is different from using a 3D digital model of a human.

The presenter struggled to appear completely natural, said Michael Wooldridge at the University of Oxford.

He explained: "It's quite hard to watch for more than a few minutes".

The AI anchors are the latest in an ongoing trend towards global digitization across several industries, outside of news, given that we already have the holographic pop star Hatsune Miku, not to mention the equally freakish CGI Instagram models Bermuda and Lil Miquela.

It was a "good first effort", however, said Noel Sharkey, emeritus professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield. China's news outlets are already subject to a lot of state control and censorship, so the ability to have virtual news readers to effectively do exactly what it's told is certainly an eyebrow-raising concept.

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