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Chi­nese news read­er­s­may have some new com­pe­ti­tion — ar­ti­fi­cially in­tel­li­gent ro­bot an­chors that can mimic hu­man fa­cial ex­pres­sions and man­ner­isms while read­ing out re­ports.

The AI an­chor, de­vel­oped by state news agency Xin­hua and tech firm So­gou, was on dis­play at the World In­ter­net Con­fer­ence in the eastern Chi­nese town ofWuzhen, draw­ing in cu­ri­ous passers-by.

The an­chor, mod­elled on real-life Chi­nese news reader Qiu Hao and sport­ing a black suit and red tie, is part of a ma­jor push by China to ad­vance its prow­ess in AI tech­nol­ogy, from sur­veil­lance equip­ment to self­driv­ing cars.

In an­other video pre­sen­ta­tion from Xin­hua, a dif­fer­ent ro­bot pre­sen­ter said it was his “very first day” at the news agency and promised to “work tire­lessly to keep you in­formed as texts will be typed into my sys­tem un­in­ter­rupted”.

At the in­ter­net sum­mit, So­gou mar­ket­ing staff said it wasn’t clear when the tech­nol­ogy would ac­tu­ally go into use, but crowds gath­ered none­the­less to take self­ies with the dig­i­tal an­chor and Qiu him­self who was at the event.

The con­fer­ence is China’s top tech event of the year, and has in the past at­tracted names like Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook and Al­pha­bet head Sun­dar Pichai.


News an­chor Qiu Hao stands next to an AI vir­tual news an­chor based on him, at the fifth WIC in China

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