Much of the technological prowess coming out of China has been negative in recent years. Technology is being used to spy, surveil and in some cases to shame its citizens so that they can be kept under the thumb of the government. Another recent technological advancement can continue that long held tradition of Chinese government authority and it comes straight out of science fiction: a virtual news anchor.

Sci-fi is no longer fiction

Now on the surface this does not sound so bad. Science fiction movies are filled with futuristic characters like this reading the news. AI has been developing the abilities to do many blue-collar human jobs like flipping burgers or farming and now it has it may have just nailed its first white-collar job. The Chinese news agency Xinhua has developed an AI news reader. They claim it can read text as well as any human though the voice is somewhat robotic sounding. Of course they are well dressed in a suit and tie and resemble current presenters but they are easily distinguished from their human counterparts. There is just a lack of a natural look to them though critics from outside of China hail it as a good first effort.

The presenters will be available 24/7 and so far an English speaking one as well as a Chinese speaking one has been developed. They can be found on Xinhua’s website and social media feeds. Xinhua believes that they will be better able to announce breaking news since the presenters will always be available. No time in makeup will be required.

Can AI truly replace a human?

News presenters have long been some of the most trusted people on television. When Walter Cronkite read the news people believed it. While that trust has been eroding as modern day news presenters are becoming more pundit than presenter they are still the easiest way to disseminate news to the people, whether it is through a television broadcast or on social media. An AI presenter will remove that human feeling and probably much of the trustworthiness that comes with it.

That last part can be good and bad. It is no secret that news presenters read off of a teleprompter. That has been going on for decades. Their reliance on that has been satirized in film so we already know that they are reading something that was prewritten. An AI newsreader changes nothing as far as that goes. The problem is is that AI will not be writing what comes out of its “mouth” so to speak.

Will AI help to control minds

We are in a vicious cycle in the news world. No one is sure what is fake and what is truly real and even when presented with ample evidence the other side refuses to budge at times. In the case of China AI will be programmed to read only what the government wants to get out and we know that AI will not be able to think for itself. The Chinese government will control the news and by doing that they will control the hearts and minds of the people with their propaganda. This could have serious consequences for the world. There will be no chance of the AI presenter going off-script. They will be good Communists.

The technology will improve over time so while Lester Holt, Jeff Glor, David Muir and Shannon Bream probably don’t have to worry about being replaced by AI just yet. Locally Ron Martin, Janelle Stelson, Robb Hanrahan, Jasmine Brooks, Dennis Owens, Alicia Richards, Evan Forrester and Ali Bradley probably don’t either. They might in 20 years or so though.

Could this end corporate news as we know it?

The technology like this could allow for many alternative news sources to make their own broadcasts in the future. We already have the ability to have AI read text so the great leap will not only be developing a life-like human representation but also getting AI to not sound so robotic. This could allow for someone in their living room to potentially compete with the massive news giants using a platform like YouTube to share their content. This could be good and bad as it will allow for differing viewpoints not controlled by the government or the corporate media but it could also create more echo chambers along the way. Is that better than what will be in China?

Being given our news by AI will be a change in the way things are done in the news world. It will not be accepted by some and readily accepted by others. In all probability our future will be a mix of both AI and humans giving us our news.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top