Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 August 2019

China has unveiled its 'first female AI news anchor'

Named Xin Xiaomeng, the perfectly coiffed broadcaster is the newest addition to Xinhua's two male AI presenters

A screenshot of the video posted by China Xinhua News showing the world's first female AI news anchor. Courtesy China Xinhua News
A screenshot of the video posted by China Xinhua News showing the world's first female AI news anchor. Courtesy China Xinhua News

In news that journalists around the world are perhaps loath to report, China has just unveiled another non-human that is set to steal their jobs.

China's state-run news agency, Xinhua, today unveiled "the world's first female AI news anchor" to read alongside its male AI news presenters.

Dystopian? Maybe not. But it is unsettling for those who are reporting.

Named Xin Xiaomeng, the perfectly coiffed broadcaster was developed jointly by Xinhua and search engine company Sogou, and was shown off in a video on social media on Thursday.

Apart from a few stiff facial muscles, Xiaomeng is remarkably life-like, complete with hand adjustments while on camera, and just enough on-cue blinking.

The computer-generated journalist was modelled after real-life Xinhua news anchor Qu Meng, whose voice and image provided inspiration for developers.

In a video on Twitter, Xiaomeng addresses the world in Chinese with English subtitles, saying "Hello to everybody who's watching", and announcing her role as broadcaster for China's Two Sessions political conferences in March.

Xiaomeng will join Xinhua's two male AI reporters, who were revealed last November, in covering the conference.

As she was unveiled to the world, Xinhua announced that her male colleague Xin Xiahao has had an upgrade.

Xiaohao has not only gained a new register of body languages, but he has also been promoted from a seating position to standing during his broadcasts, and he's pretty pleased about it.

"Henceforth, rather than working behind the desk, I'll be broadcasting the news in front of the desk," he told the world.

"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."

The two carry off their broadcasts seamlessly, with not a stutter or forgotten cue in sight.

But in a sign-off line that will be unlikely to win her any friends in the newsroom of the flesh-and-blood variety, Xiaomeng promises to "present you with a better news broadcast".

Updated: February 22, 2019 01:00 AM

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