Artificial intelligence is slowly but surely taking over jobs in a lot of fields. And the latest market it is looking at, is news anchoring, a job which most of us thought could not be outsourced to a machine.
In China, Xinhua News Agency and Beijing-based search engine company Sogou have demonstrated a virtual news anchor who can deliver the news in the same manner as though it were being delivered by a live human anchor. The machine learning programme is able to mimic realistic sounding speech (using synthesised voice), lip movements as well as facial expressions.
Just see the video for yourself and notice how life-like the expressions and delivery is. It's only the robotic voice that is a dead giveaway that it isn't a real human.
Xinhua News Agency has stated that it is going to employ AI anchors as part of its reporting team. These AI programs will be powered by real anchors who will bring you news in both Chinese and English language. These AI anchors will be available across Xinhua's internet and mobile platforms, WeChat public account and its online TV webpage.
"The development of the media industry calls for continuous innovation and deep integration with the international advanced technologies. I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted," says the AI anchor in the promo video who is modelled on a real-life Xinhua news anchor names Zhang Zhao. So as long as the text input is fed, the AI anchor can pretty much be on camera for 24 hours if required, something that is not always possible with human anchors.
According to a report in the South China Morning Post, the AI news anchors would improve the efficiency of the newsroom as it can quickly generate breaking news so long as it has the text input.
There is that perennial fear of AI taking over human jobs, and it is in fact happening. A lot of the routine jobs which were done by people in the past can be scaled well if an AI takes over. It not only cuts costs for the employers but in many industries is letting the employees work on more complex tasks. Looks like AI is coming for the creative jobs as well.