Real fake news: China now has an AI news anchor. Look out, Ron Burgundy.

In the world of news, the TV anchor has traditionally been the most important position. Lloyd Robertson. Peter Mansbridge. Walter Cronkite. Peter Jennings. Lisa LaFlamme. Diane Sawyer. They’ve also been among the highest-paid.

Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, is looking to cut costs by eliminating a flesh-and-blood anchor entirely. Introducing the world’s first AI news anchor.

The fake news reader (as in the newsreader is fake, not the news–although there’s quite a bit of propaganda disseminated through Xinhua, so there’s a double meaning to that phrase) is always on call, never throws a hissy fit and won’t inject any unauthorized opinions into his delivery. Its look and sound are based on a Chinese journalist named Zhang Zhao. And its name? It introduced itself as “I am AI news anchor in Beijing,”

This first iteration of the technology isn’t all that impressive–it does sound computer-generated and the animation isn’t very good–but you can see where things are going.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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