THE RISE OF THE MACHINES will be televised if China's artificial intelligence (AI) news presenter is anything to go by.
The nations state news agency Xinhua News worked with Chinese tech firm Sogu to create a virtual news anchor based on the appearance of actual human news readers.
The virtual presenters are created using 3D digital models of real humans an then apply AI tech to synthesise the voices of presenters and replicate their expressions and lip movements, without the need for more time-consuming traditional CGI processes.
The results looks to be a tad mixed, with AI news presenters looking a little stilted and unnatural, though if we were to stumble in late at night after a skinful and turn on Chinese news, we'd probably be duped by the presenter, at least until we sobered up with some fried chicken and a can of coke.
The idea behind an AI newsreader is that news can be delivered 24/7 without suffering spiralling production costs. Reading between the lines, that would suggest there's potential for the AI news readers to push their human counterparts out of their jobs. But that situation will likely need the tech to advance a few steps first.
Xinhua AI anchor, launched on Wednesday, starts presenting news reports from Thursday. In this program, he takes you to have a look at what a Panama official and the Chinese businessman Jack Ma say about the ongoing #CIIE.
A more immediately worrying aspect is that virtual news readers could be yet another step down the route of delivering fake news and propaganda. China's news outlets are already subject to a lot of state control and censorship, so the ability to have virtual news readers to effectively do exactly what it's told is certainly an eyebrow-raising concept.
Anyone who's played Deus Ex: Human Revolution will recall the Picus news agency that used an AI news anchor to propagate propaganda of the comms agency behind the news firm. It looks like near-future sci-fi is getting closer to reality, though we suspect wrist chisel and claymore personal augmentations aren't going to pop up anytime soon.
Either way, the idea of AI news readers is definitely something to chew over, though we suspect it'll put the willies up the likes of Bill Gates and fellow AI fear-mongers.