‘Here is the news. You can’t stop us’: AI anchor Zae-In grants us an interview

  • October 20, 2023
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From Asia to Europe, AI presenters are now reading the bulletins. They’re attractive, ageless and work 24/7 without being paid. Should their human counterparts be worried? And what about the rest of us?

Like most newsreaders, Zae-In wears a microphone pinned to her collar and clutches a stack of notes – but unlike most, her face is entirely fake. A “virtual human” designed by South Korean artificial intelligence company Pulse9, Zae-In spent five months this year reading live news bulletins on national broadcaster SBS. That, you might think, is it then. To adapt the words of another animated newscaster: “I, for one, welcome our new AI overlords.” The future is now. The world belongs to the artificially intelligent and the News at Ten will never be the same again.

Are things really that simple? Since spring, country after country have debuted their first AI news anchor: India has Sana and Lisa, Greece has Hermes, Kuwait has Fedha and Taiwan has Ni Zhen. “She is bright, gorgeous, ageless, tireless and speaks multiple languages, and is totally under my control,” said Kalli Purie, the vice chairperson of the India Today Group, when Sana first appeared in March. For broadcasters, it’s easy to see the appeal of AI: virtual presenters can read rolling news for 24 hours unpaid and unfed, and it’s unlikely they’ll ever skip the queue at a lying-in-state.

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