April 29, 2019

Arabic AI news anchor sees Abu Dhabi follow in China’s steps

By Lucy Ingham

The world’s first Arabic-speaking AI news anchor has been announced in Abu Dhabi, marking a key step for the proliferation of the technology.

The virtual news anchor, which is being developed for Abu Dhabi Media (ADM), the official media organisation of the Government of Abu Dhabi, will present news in both Arabic and English.

It is designed to look highly lifelike, and deliver news with natural speech patterns, gestures and expressions in real-time.

It follows the development of the world’s first AI news anchor, which was unveiled by Chinese state news agency Xinhua in November 2018.

In both cases, the technology is being developed by Chinese internet company Sogou, with assistance from the respective broadcasters.

AI news anchor to drive a “qualitative leap forward”

The announcement by ADM has been paired with considerable enthusiasm from the Abu Dhabi government, which is highly enthusiastic about the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and wider emerging technologies.

“The use of artificial intelligence and technological tools in the media sector will result in a qualitative leap forward within the media landscape in the UAE and the wider region,” said His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of Artificial Intelligence.

“These new developments within the media sector are in line with the UAE Government’s strategy of developing unique new models and systems built around artificial intelligence and advanced technologies that support the nation’s transformation into a knowledge based society and economy.”

The announcement also indicates an enthusiasm by Chinese developer Sogou to proliferate the technology to other international broadcasters.

“We are extremely pleased to partner with Abu Dhabi Media, a pioneering multi-platform media and entertainment organisation,” said Wang Yanfeng, General Manager of Sogou’s Voice Interaction Technology Center.

“We look forward to sharing our AI News Anchor technology with an increasingly global audience. This marks the first time that Sogou’s AI News Anchor technology is being leveraged by an international media platform, and together we are thrilled to bring the AI News Anchor to Arabic-speaking viewers.”

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