How Humanoid Robots Are Transforming Media Industry

By Sani Theo

3609
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AI is a valuable tool for both editorial and production teams in the publishing industry. It reduces human journalists’ workload and allows them to spend more time on other important stories.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking away jobs in many industries, and media and entertainment are no exception. This article covers the latest trends of how AI is transforming the field of media, including TV news reporting, journalism and publishing.

Xin Xiaomeng, the world’s first female AI news anchor (Fig. 1) was unveiled in China and hit TV screens in February 2019. It was developed by Xinhua News Agency and Chinese search engine Sogou.com. They used machine learning to simulate voice, facial movements and gestures of real-life broadcasters, to present a life-like image instead of a cold robot. In November 2018, they unveiled two male AI news anchors: one for English news and the other for Chinese news.

Xin Xiaomeng, the world’s first female humanoid news anchor (Credit: http://en.people.cn)
Fig. 1: Xin Xiaomeng, the world’s first female humanoid news anchor (Credit: http://en.people.cn)

Xinhua and Sogou have also built an improved male AI news anchor named Xin Xiaohao. He has greater body language capabilities, such as an increased number of hand gestures and facial expressions. He can also present news in a standing position, as opposed to other AI anchors, all of whom are programmed in sitting positions. These robots are basically avatars and cloned from real-life hosts, and have mastered broadcasting. These news anchors learn from live videos, read texts and are able to work 24/7, reporting via social media and on specific websites.

Prior to Xin Xiaomeng, Japan unveiled Kodomoroid, a female news presenter at an exhibition at Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, Japan) in 2014. It has thirty degrees of freedom, and can express various facial expressions and gestural motions.

Russia has also introduced a robot TV anchor named Alex. However, Alex can only move his facial features and neck.

Humanoid robot called Rashmi has been developed recently in India. She is the first Hindi-speaking robot and has been hosting a show on Red FM since 2018.

Rashmi, the world’s first humanoid robot RJ (Credit: www.rashmirobot.com)
Fig. 2: Rashmi, the world’s first humanoid robot RJ (Credit: www.rashmirobot.com)

Digital publishing

Digital publishing or electronic publishing includes publication of e-books and digital magazines that are mostly meant to be read on a screen such as computer, e-reader, tablet or smartphone. It also includes editorial aspects, development of digital libraries and catalogues.

The digital publishing process is different from the traditional paper-based publishing process in two ways:

  1. Offset printing press is not required to print the final product.
  2. There is no physical product involved, such as paper books, magazines or newspapers. The first digitisation initiative started in the 1970s in the US to make literature more accessible to everyone, through the Internet. Now, with advancements in AI, there is a paradigm shift in the publishing industry because almost everything is taken care of by software tools.

AI-powered robots are steadily taking on the role of traditional writers. This is where automated journalism or algorithmic journalism comes in. In automated journalism, news articles are generated by computer programs.

Automated journalism

AI is a valuable tool for both editorial and production teams in the publishing industry. It reduces human journalists’ workload and allows them to spend more time on other important stories. Scope of AI includes automating processes, ranging from translation to customer interactions, and recommending services.

Representation of future journalism (Credit: https://medium.com)
Fig. 3: Representation of future journalism (Credit: https://medium.com)

Examples

Most publishers are looking to implement AI in their marketing and distribution departments. AI-based automated reporters are being built to produce large quantities of information at quicker speeds. News reports filed through automated systems include sports recaps, weather, financial reports, real estate analysis and earnings reviews. For example, StatSheet, an online platform covering college basketball, runs entirely on an automated program.

Thomson Reuters started using an automation tool to generate financial news stories for its online news platform in 2006. It was also reported that an algorithm called Quakebot published a story on The Los Angeles Times website in 2014 about California earthquake within three minutes after the tremor had stopped.

Since 2006, Associated Press has used Wordsmith software in a variety of different articles. Users simply input data, and the program creates a story using branching paths that can add words, phrases and sections.

The Washington Post news services has developed an AI tool called Heliograf. The tool can automatically generate articles from news sources, like sports results. It produces naturally-worded content in the form of short news snippets, which are suitable for such social media platforms as Facebook and Twitter. The AI tool enables publishing of many additional stories per year.

Xiaomingbot is another example of robotic journalists reporting on sports.

Associated Press and The Washington Post have been using AI to produce articles for minor league baseball and high school football, too.

Automated journalism is sometimes seen as an opportunity to free human journalists from routine reporting, providing them with more time for complex tasks. Automation serves as a cost-cutting tool for many news organisations. It is cheaper because more content can be produced within less time. AI replacing humans means overall benefits such as lower expenses on wages or salaries, paid leaves, vacations and employee insurance.

Issues

However, automated journalism comes with many problems. First, it is perceived as a threat to authorship, quality of news and job security issue for journalists within the industry.

Second, at this point computers alone lack the ability to write stories with perspective, emotion, thorough analysis and surprising observations.

Third, even with recent advancements in deep learning powered by Big Data, better microprocessors and other hardware, AI has failed to solve many complex issues. For instance, a few years ago, Facebook paid the price when AI algorithms began posting fake news stories.

Again, in an automated story, there is often confusion about who should be credited as the author. Many people think that credit should be given to the programmer, while others perceive the news organisation as the author, emphasising on collaborative nature of the work.

Recently, a court in Shenzhen, China, ruled that an article generated by AI is protected by copyright, which apparently does not include being created by a human as per laws in the US and elsewhere.

Conclusion

Latest advancements in AI-powered technologies are becoming popular in the media and entertainment industry. While AI is on the rise, there are still some drawbacks with AI machines. But now, new automated systems are slowly improving, and such large corporations as Google and Open AI are edging closer to a significant breakthrough.


 

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