New golden age begins: Robot reporters are here

To cleanse the palate. On the one hand, this is every inch as creepy and dehumanizing an “innovation” as you’d expect from Chinese state media.


On the other hand, in due time it might automate the American cable-news industry into obsolescent oblivion.

Dilemmas, dilemmas.

Your quote of the day comes from a BBC story about it:

Xinhua says the presenters can “work” 24 hours a day on its website and social media channels, “reducing news production costs”…

“It’s quite difficult to watch for more than a few minutes. It’s very flat, very single-paced, it’s not got rhythm, pace or emphasis,” Prof Wooldridge told the BBC.
He also pointed out that human news presenters have traditionally – in many cases – become highly trusted public figures.

“If you’re just looking at animation you’ve completely lost that connection to an anchor,” he added.

Whatever will we do when we can’t trust the people on TV who deliver us the news? Will I ever trust the AI version of Dan Rather as much as I trust the real thing?

If you’re hopeful that this will solve the intractable problem of media bias, be cautious. Early indications about artificial intelligence’s immunity to prejudices are … not great. We may be headed for a world in which most robo-anchors are outright communists or neo-Nazis. (Although we may be headed for a world in which a lot of people are that way too.) And per the clip, this isn’t true AI. The anchor’s not generating his own words, just reading whatever script a person is typing in for him, like a cross between Ron Burgundy and 2-XL. I hope I live long enough to see virtual weathermen doing inane gratuitous live shots from beaches on the east coast during hurricanes.


Just think: Someday your children may tune in to a presidential press conference to find robo-Acosta badgering President Donald Trump Jr in full monotone as an intern tries to wrestle the mic away. “MR PRESIDENT IS IT TRUE THAT YOU HATE MINORITIES MR PRESI– PLEASE DO NOT INTERFERE WITH MY TRANSMISSION.” Couldn’t they just unplug him if he won’t shut up?

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