Adding another feather to its tech savvy cap, China on Tuesday unveiled the world's first female AI news presenter.
The announcement was made by China's Xinhua News Agency and the search engine Shougou Company who together collaborated in the development of the artificial intelligence anchor, called Xin Xiaomeng.
Xiaomeng will debut in March during the upcoming Two Sessions meetings, the annual Parliamentary meetings held in China.
China's Xinhua News Agency on Tuesday unveiled the world’s first female #AI news anchor, “Xin Xiaomeng,’ who will make her professional debut during the upcoming meetings of the country's national legislature and top political advisory body #TwoSessions pic.twitter.com/9gGDpfwfil— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) February 20, 2019
As remarkable as the AI presenter is, this is not the first robot news presenter in the world. In 2018, China became the first country in the world to develop the first of its kind AI 'journalist', a male news presenter by the name of Qui Hao. The specimen was unveiled during China’s annual World Internet Conference in November.
But China's experiments with AI reporters and journalists has been going on for some years. In 2012, the University of Science and Technology of China started developing a woman robot by the name of 'Jia Jia'. The robot was unveiled in 2017 when she took questions from AI expert and Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly. The interaction was filmed and released by Xinhua. The awkward conversation and the ineptitude of the robot in answering questions with speed and clarity left many wondering if robots could indeed compete with humans, especially in subjective-perceptive fields like journalism that relies heavily on human instincts and discretion of journalists.
However, Xinhua stated that ever since launching AI employees in November 2018, the robots have filed 3,400 reports. In fact, China had even introduced an AI 'intern' reporter in 2017 during that year's Two Sessions meetings. The robot was called 'Inspire'.
With rapid developments in the field of AI, China is soon emerging as a world leader in the sector, edging out countries like the US and Japan. The Boston Consulting Group’s study Mind the (AI) Gap: Leadership Makes the Difference, published in December last year, found that 85 percent of Chinese companies are active players in the AI sector. The New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan introduced in 2017 is also responsible for the rapid growth of AI in China.
With its large array of tech-startups, US is currently at the second place in terms of AI expansion as a sector, after China. Even private players such as Google have started taking an interest. In 2017, Google financed the development of 'RADAR' (Reporters And Data And Robots), a software that will gather, automate and produce news reports. It was developed by British news agency Press Association at a cost of $805,000.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency also introduced an automated system of reporting called 'Soccerbot' which will dedicatedly produce football related news.
With larger and more concerted efforts being made to develop AI through the world, robot news presenters could soon become a common reality, much like Siri or Alexa. But is the job sector, especially in countries like India, ready to accommodate these new robotic players?