China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency has reportedly become the first media house in the world to use Artificial Intelligence for news anchoring. Launched during the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Xinhua has developed two AI anchors in collaboration with search engine operator Sugou.
The AI news anchor
“AI anchors have officially become members of the Xinhua News Agency reporting team. They will work with other anchors to bring you authoritative, timely, and accurate news information in both Chinese and English,” Xinhua said in a statement (South China Morning Post).
Xinhua expects AI anchors to improve the efficiency of broadcasting and cut down production costs in daily news reports. In addition, breaking news reports can be generated and broadcast much faster with AI than human beings. Chinese citizens can access the anchors through Xinhua’s mobile apps, online website, or through the public WeChat account.
The AI anchors are said to be able to deliver news exactly like a human being. This was done by synthesizing realistic looking lip movements, facial expressions, and speech. Images and voices of human anchors were used to create the AI, which is available 24×7 on all platforms.
“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. I look forward to bringing you the brand new news experiences,” said the AI anchor during its first broadcast. (CNBC News)
While social media admired the realism of the anchors, they also raised concerns about how the news agency will use them. Some even joked how fake anchors reading fake news actually falls in line with the Communist Party’s propaganda mindset.
AI and civil rights
The development of AI also raises the question of civil rights. Given that AI, once fully developed, will have the same cognition and intelligence capabilities of human beings, shouldn’t they have rights equal to humans?
Many scientists and ethics experts have weighed in on the question, agreeing that some sort of rights will eventually have to be given to Artificial Intelligence entities. Failing to give rights might even result in the declaration of an all-out war against human beings by AI and AI-controlled technologies.
“As people’s demands for more generally intelligent machines push the complexity of AI forward, there will come a tipping point where robots will awaken and insist on their rights to exist, to live free, and to evolve to their full potential… We will be forced to decide whether we can accept a greater, more inclusive vision of what it means to be human,” roboticist Dr. David Hanson said in a research paper. (Independent)
AI will also bring in more complications to the Chinese government. Imagine AI entities asking for equal rights from a government that does not even recognize the rights of its own citizens.
Will the AI work with freedom-loving citizens to overthrow the government? Will the Communist Party get so paranoid that it will eventually ban AI in China, deeming it a threat to social order? Interesting possibilities are definitely awaiting us as we continue to pursue the development of artificial intelligence.