According to the The Daily Mail, the first female robot news anchor gave its first news report Sunday in China.
The robot named Xin Xiaomeng was designed by Xinhua and programmed by Sogou.com to “read texts as naturally as a professional anchor.” It was designed to resemble real-life journalist Qu Meng.
The robot gave a presentation on a news story about politicians appearing in Bejing for the annual legislative session in China, which is widely considered to be the biggest political event of the year in China. It wore a pink-and-purple blouse, resembling an outfit worn by Meng during a 2014 presentation, and also sported a short bob haircut and two metal bauble earrings.
Her brown eyes stare into the camera as she speaks in a slightly robotic voice, blinking every so often, and her arms occasionally shift to resemble how humans may tend to fidget. The realistic depiction of a human is uncanny and has many viewers in and out of China are reportedly worried about how close the resemblance is.
Xin is the latest to join a team of robotic news anchors sponsored by China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua. Last year, the English-speaking robot Zhang Zhao and Chinese-speaking robot Qiu Hao were revealed to the world during the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China.
Reportedly, Xinhua is thrilled by the performance of the news readers. From a business perspective, they offer numerous advantages compared to their human counterparts.
For one, the robots can work 24 hours a day without needing breaks for things like sleep. This allows the news agency to keep the stream of news running all day and all night without switching anchors.
The company also claims that it allows for greater efficiency during breaking news reports. This is likely because the robot does not need to understand the information, as it could merely relay it without having any emotional reaction to the news.
Xinhua claims that since the release of the robotic news team in November, they have released some 3,400 reports or over 10,000 minutes of news.
The robots represent the overall obsession China has with artificial intelligence research and implementation into society. Nearly every aspect of business in China has felt the impact of AI. A report by the McKinsey Global Institute believes that utilizing AI in Chinese workspaces would result in a GDP growth of anywhere between 0.8 to 1.4 percent.
The response to Xin’s release has been mixed. Some are excited by the novelty of robots performing human tasks with uncanny results, while others are terrified of losing their jobs as robots become more and more advanced.
Only time will tell if these robotic presenters will outdo their human counterparts and if audiences will accept them.