World of tomorrow
WITH TECHNOLOGICAL advances moving forward at breakneck speed, some people, particularly in the manufacturing field, are finding themselves replaced by automation. We sympathize with those souls and hope they can be retrained to find a different field. But journalists have never truly been worried about robots doing our jobs … until now.
China has unveiled the world’s first artificial intelligence news anchor, and to be fair, it’s an impressive feat. China Xinhua News has modeled the AI “person” on one of its own journalists. And to be sure, it looks like a real human reading the news.
Of course Red China would introduce the first robot journalist. Its current, and certainly human, reporters simply repeat the party line anyway. Whether the propaganda comes from a real human in front of the teleprompter or a machine might not make much difference in the lives of the people of mainland China. But as always, we digress.
“His movements, voice and overall presentation mimic the style of real-life broadcasters,” says The Sunday Times. “And he is not the only AI news anchor. Xinhua news agency also unveiled another AI news anchor, Qui Hao.”
Should we be worried about real news anchors being replaced worldwide? Probably not just yet. If you watch the video of the, uh, fake news reader, you’ll notice the generated image of a man sounds a little more human than you’d expect, but he’s still a far cry from having any soul or personality.
And it’s not likely he’ll be much good during an interview. Johnny Carson, this thing ain’t. And if, one day, there’s a real journalist sending him questions to ask guests, then what’s the point? Our AI friend would be just an overly expensive puppet.
All this stuff is impressive, but like self-driving cars, the technology isn’t quite there yet. Those service kiosks at McDonald’s are kind of neat, but you still see a face behind the cashier drawer. Things are changing, but blinking eyes and nodding heads don’t a journalist make.
And Arkansas’ newspaper will still be written by humans, Gentle Reader. We’ve seen the current crop of robot-generated stories—sports stories, written through some sort of formula, on several fantasy football websites. Soulless doesn’t describe it.
For the time being, and maybe only for the time being, X and Y equals Z will have to stay in math class. As Truman Capote said about Beat Generation writers: That’s not writing, that’s typing.