A Chinese company, Xihua, decided to create an Artificial Intelligence that would portray a robot of television news.
That is, the functionality of the robot turns out to be informing people 24/7 of the latest relevant news in the country. Although the robot is basically “reading” the text that is “in front of it,” the magic of Artificial Intelligence is to create the face, the shadows, and even the lips in order to appear as real as possible.
This Artificial Intelligence looks like a real Human at first glance
Although at first glance still deceive the human eye, after looking closely we can see that the “lack of emotions” portrays this character.
Still, it is still a major breakthrough for Artificial Intelligence and technology itself.
Background: This development was pioneered in concert with Sogou, a search engine company out of Beijing. As can be seen in the video, the computer-generated, photorealistic rendering of Zhao moves and talks in a convincing manner, and the AI-generated voice, aside from the obvious robotic inflection common in text-to-speech software, sounds very human. The visual aspect is not a pre-made 3D model, but rather a recreation of the anchor using computer vision AI software akin to what powers Google’s DeepDream program. This explains the photorealistic texturing and the convincing movement; rather than a human skinning and skeletonizing a 3D model, the AI software does all the work in a much more detailed manner, producing a result that’s arguably beyond what would be feasible for a human to put in the work to produce. The software analyzes its assigned anchor in-depth, then patches together all of its visual data into a cohesive image that mimics the anchor’s movements and other quirks. Taken together, these parts form a whole that very strongly resembles the human anchor, thus the “composite” part of the name.
Impact: For now, this particular advancement does not seem to be a threat to existing news anchors’ jobs, though it has affected job prospects for would-be nighttime anchors. Rather than hiring and training new anchors, the composite anchors allow Xinhua to continue serving its users a mostly intact version of familiar daytime personalities. These anchors are somewhat limited in their capabilities; for obvious reasons, they can’t do fieldwork or conduct non-virtual interviews, nor can they serve as a public face for their news agency during events, building tours, and other face-to-face engagements. While it’s for a completely different purpose, there is a technology making a slow rise that could solve that part of the problem. A company called KinkySDollS recently made headlines when a planned robot brothel in Houston got blocked by permitting woes, and that company’s not the only one working on realistic human-based automatons. Should these bots reach a sufficient level of AI-based autonomy, along with a sufficient level of mobility, as seen in a recent video from Boston Dynamics that showed a bipedal robot doing parkour, it’s quite possible that AI-created public workers could become a thing. Such a development would go far beyond news anchors, though it’s not hyperbole at this point to say that we’re nowhere near the kind of realistic, emotional androids depicted in science fiction.