“(His) voice is too stiff, and there are problems with the pauses,” said one user.
“Apparently, news anchors have to lose their jobs,” said another.
China operates one of the most aggressive media censorship regimes in the world and has tightened restrictions on domestic and foreign news outlets under President Xi Jinping. But that hasn’t stopped its newsrooms from innovating.
While Xinhua claims the virtual anchor is a world first, it is not the first time that Chinese media has experimented with AI technology.
In 2015, China’s Dragon TV used Microsoft’s XiaoIce chatbot to deliver a weather report on its live breakfast show. The AI computer program delivered the forecast in a “cute” female voice, according to Xinhua.
Automated reporting has proliferated in recent years. The Associated Press wire service is just one major news organization that uses sophisticated computer algorithms to write thousands of automated stories a year.
Advanced software programs scrape sources like corporate earnings reports and baseball box scores and then transform the data into sentences that humans can understand.