Chinese state media debuts 'AI' news anchors

This photo illustration shows a man watching an artificial intelligence (AI) news anchor from a state-controlled news broadcaster, on his computer in Beijing on November 9, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 10 November 2018

Chinese state media debuts 'AI' news anchors

  • The AI anchor is part of a major push by China to advance its prowess in AI tech

WUZHEN, China: Chinese news readers may 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 Inc, was on display at the World Internet Conference in the eastern Chinese town of Wuzhen, 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 self-driving 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 Inc. CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet Inc. head Sundar Pichai.
This year’s iteration, however, which opened on Wednesday, was more muted and has a less glitzy global line-up, even as battle lines for control of the web have hardened amid a biting trade war between China and the United States.
Foreign websites such as Alphabet’s Google and Facebook Inc. are blocked in China, where authorities also tightly control online content and censor or punish those who post material seen as opposed to “core socialist values.”

Dubai-based radio presenter dies hours before show

Updated 16 January 2019

Dubai-based radio presenter dies hours before show

  • Aramouni was due to present his regular Drive Time slot when he died
  • The Arab-American had previously worked for a radio station in Lebanon

DUBAI: A Dubai-based radio station suspended its regular programing after one of its presenters died a short time before he was due on air.

US-born James Aramouni, 28, had just returned from visiting his family in Lebanon and was due to present his Drive Time show on Dance 97.8 when he died on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019.

The radio station is owned by the media group Shock Middle East which also owns Heart 107.1 FM.

Aramouni, joined the group in October 2017 as the Dance 97.8 Drive Time presenter, having previously worked on a radio station in Beirut.

Group managing director, Cameron Plant said he “quickly became one of the stations leading presenters.”

“James was a much-loved member of the Shock Middle East family and we are devastated to hear of his passing,”

“We will miss his creativity, energy and his contribution to Dance FM. We ask you to respect the privacy of his family during this difficult time.”

Digby Taylor, Aramouni’s program director, told local press that the DJ was one of the biggest talents he had worked with throughout his 40-year career.

He said Aramouni was hugely popular with his colleagues and lived with several of the other presenters

“This was a young man who should have had many, many years ahead of him. He was in the prime of his life and should have had such a long career ahead.”

Aramouni had spent New Year in South Africa and posted a photograph of himself with a friend in front of Table Mountain.

In one of the comments in the thread that followed he told a friend: “it was amazing bro. i wanna move there!!”

But after his death the thread became a place for tributes, with one frined writing: “R.I.P my brother!!You were a great man!!I will never forget the day I met you.”

The radio station Dance 97.8 suspended regular programming for three days as a mark of respect.

No details have been given into the cause of his death.