China's state-run news agency, Xinhua, on Friday unveiled its newest news anchor, Xin Xiaomeng. Why is this newsworthy? Well, because Xin isn't a real person, but an ultra-realistic computer generated model powered by advanced AI technology.
The perfectly coiffed Xin Xiaomeng introduced herself to Xinhua's viewers in a short clip, announcing that she will make her professional debut as news anchor in March.
She was developed by the state-run news agency in collaboration with search engine Sogou, and her appearance and voice were inspired by those of a real-life Xinhua broadcaster named Qu Meng. In her introduction video, the perfectly coiffed AI news anchor spoke only in Chinese, and it's unclear if she'll be able to tackle English news reports as well.
The announcement of Xinhua's first AI female 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. They've also evolved quite a bit since November, when they could only read news sitting at a desk and with minimal body language. A recent video of Xin Xiahao, one of the male AI anchors, shows him standing and telling viewers about the upgrades he received.
“Henceforth, rather than working behind the desk, I'll be broadcasting the news in front of the desk,” the digital model said. Instead, I'll be broadcasting from a standing position. I can make more hand gestures and facial expressions. Now I have my own name, Xin Xiaohao. Thanks to this upgrade, I'll be able to conduct better broadcasts.”
While these AI news anchor have yet to perfectly mimic their human counter parts, with movement being the biggest tell that there is something off about them, they do look impressively realistic, and they don't make mistakes. For example, they never miss a cue, and never stutter.