People Daily, a state-owned news outlet in China, has unveiled its latest creation: an AI news anchor named “Ren Xiaorong.” The Chinese Communist Party’s official news agency claims that Xiaorong has the professional skills of a “thousand presenters,” suggesting that this virtual newsreader could revolutionize the broadcasting industry.
In a video posted on Weibo, Xiaorong appears standing in front of a city skyline, confidently announcing her ability to deliver news broadcasts on any topic, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without rest. “Whether at news sites or back in the studio, you will always see me,” she proclaims. “Every conversation, every feedback you provide, will only make me smarter.”
However, there are limitations to Xiaorong’s capabilities. While her creators claim she can speak about any topic, according to reports, the AI-powered anchor can only answer questions related to China’s Two Sessions political conference. These preset subjects include “cutting-edge technology,” “tax and fee reduction,” “employment,” and “The Belt and Road Initiative.” Xiaorong’s responses are also in line with the CCP’s ideology, and viewers are unable to ask their own questions, limiting her interactivity.
Xiaorong is not the first AI-powered news anchor to appear on Chinese television or online. The state news agency Xinhua introduced an AI presenter in 2018 modeled after an existing human reporter. However, Xiaorong’s arrival marks the latest addition to an emerging group of digital AI newsreaders in China, hinting at a growing trend toward automation and artificial intelligence in the broadcasting industry.
While the concept of AI news anchors raises questions about the future of journalism, some experts argue that this technology could help streamline news production and increase efficiency. However, others are concerned about the potential for bias and censorship in AI-generated news content, particularly when it comes to state-controlled media outlets like People Daily. As the use of AI in news production continues to grow, it remains to be seen how it will impact the way we consume and interact with news in the future.