China’s AI News Anchor Makes the News More Boring

A Chinese news agency debuted a news anchor powered by artificial intelligence at the World Internet Conference yesterday.

Nov 8 2018, 6:44pm

Yesterday at the World Internet Conference, the Xinhua News Agency in China debuted its newest news anchor: Qiu Hao, a humanoid powered by artificial intelligence, modeled after a real anchor for the agency named Zhang Zhao.

“I'll work tirelessly to keep you informed, as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted,” Qiu Hao said, unintentionally sounding like Janet from The Good Place. In other words, it’s not that he’s aggregating the news in real time. He’s just using artificial intelligence to generate facial expressions that match the words being fed to him.

The Xinhua News Agency argued that AI news anchors will cut costs on post-production for TV news agencies, but it’s not evident that widespread or long-term implementation of an AI news anchor will actually happen.

After all, this isn't the first time countries have shown off robot news anchors. Several month ago, Japanese news channel Kodormoroid debuted Erica, who is also powered by artificial intelligence. She is objectively creepy, somehow resembles smooth Yoda, and has gotten little attention after her initial debut. (Also, apparently she is 23 years old?)

"I look forward to bringing you the brand new news experiences,” Qiu Hao said. Classic Qiu Hao! If I were to guess, Qiu Hao’s inspiration Zhang Zhao will not be out of a job anytime soon.