Chinese State-Run TV Debuts Artificial Intelligence News Anchor

screen shot 2018 11 09 at 11 00 02 am

Chinese state-run news agency, Xinhua, broadcast its first A.I. news anchor modeled after one of its prime-time anchors, Zhang Zhao. The AI anchor was fashioned as the agency’s English-speaking host and promises it will report the news tirelessly, year-round, and without claiming overtime pay. Ha, ha, that’s a good one – apparently our future A.I. overlords have a sense of humor too.

The A.I. news anchor seems to employ similar technology to Apple’s Animoji, which mimics facial expressions, or it may be similar to a CGI character from your favorite superhero movie that looks uncannily realistic. According to one of its creators, Wang Xiaochuan, the technology could one day be used to have a digital mockup of anyone read the news to you, including your own parents.

But the concern with this technology for use in news media has stoked fears that it could be used to spread fake news and propaganda in a world rife with such issues. Videos implementing the technology to depict world leaders and celebrities giving completely fabricated speeches have circulated the internet recently, though it’s unclear whether these videos have been used to truly deceive anyone yet.

“Not only can I accompany you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I can be endlessly copied and present at different scenes to bring you the news,” the A.I. bot claims in the video.

In a world where traditional news media business models are failing due to new forms of consumption and widespread public distrust, this new technology promises to cut costs for publishers who no longer have to pay an actual human, while their bot can run non-stop as long as it has a script.

“The development of the media industry calls for continuous innovation and deep integration with the international advanced technologies … I look forward to bringing you brand new news experiences,” the bot said.

The pioneering of this technology by China is unsurprising as the autocratic country’s news reporting is entirely state-run. The country has taken other similarly Orwellian steps in its technological development, including a social credit score that rates its citizens’ daily behavior. The country has also installed a nearly universal surveillance apparatus that includes millions of CCTV cameras monitoring its citizens with machine-learning AI facial recognition technology.

The fears behind A.I. development stem from the idea that machine learning algorithms could one day lead to sentience and by the time this happens, A.I. will increase at an exponential rate, eventually realizing it doesn’t need humans or that it could enslave us due to a massive discrepancy in intellectual capacity. Others say this fear is absurd as we’ll always be able to unplug it – it’s just a computer after all. Right?

For more on the rise of artificial intelligence and the potential threats it poses, watch this episode of Deep Space :



A New Phase of Matter Appears to Defy Laws of Thermodynamics

Quantum Time Crystals Defy Thermodynamics

Scientists have created a new phase of matter known as time crystals, a quantum phenomenon appearing to defy the laws of thermodynamics. Could this discovery upend our understanding of classical physics?

A team of researchers developing Google’s Sycamore quantum computer announced the successful creation of a time crystal that lasted for 100 seconds. This novel phase of matter appears to defy the second law of thermodynamics, which states that entropy, or chaos and disorder, always increases in an isolated system. In other words, energy must be put into a system in order to maintain structure or motion. But time crystals have been observed to maintain a constant state of flux, without losing any energy.

Dr. Simeon Hein, director of the Institute for Resonance, explains the science behind this strange phenomenon.

“Crystals are in everything we do—they’re in watches—they’re in so many things because they’re regular, they create evenness, they create this consistency. And just like their pattern is very consistent, the energy that crystals transmit turns into a very regular pattern which is why you can use a quartz crystal in a watch,’ Dr. Hein said.

“You can put a noisy electrical signal in but it will come out as a very consistent beat, and that created the idea for some people, in this case, Frank Wilczek from M.I.T. in 2012, to propose the idea that you not only had crystals in space, you could have crystals in time. You could create an oscillating circuit, using specific quantum principles, you could create a very constant quantum beat.”

Time crystals have been described as the first “out-of-equilibrium” phase of matter, meaning they maintain order while in an excited state. But how do time crystals accomplish this, without expending energy?

“At a quantum level, they’re getting energy from something called the Zero-point energy field. The Zero-point energy field is the lowest ground state of quantum matter, but the lowest state doesn’t mean absolute zero like nothing’s happening. The quantum ground state is actually the base state of the universe, where even though there’s nothing happening, the field itself generates energy, causing random fluctuations and particles to pop out of nowhere, and all sorts of really interesting effects that normally, I should say most of the time, we don’t see in our regular, physical reality,” Dr. Hein said.

“So these coherently entangled particles would be deriving their energy from the quantum vacuum field. But if they’re getting their energy from the quantum vacuum, instead of our classical world, you can’t see any reason why they would eventually have to wind down like our regular clocks would, and energy would dissipate.”

With this new discovery of time crystals appearing to defy the second law of thermodynamics, how has mainstream science reacted, or tried to reconcile this paradox?

“A lot of these quantum phenomena seem to defy classical physics, the whole idea of quantum entanglement suggests faster than light interaction or communication, Einstein called it ‘spooky action at a distance,’ and experiments later confirmed that you could take pairs of particles and separate them, and you could do something to one of them, and the other particle would immediately react at farther and farther distances away,” Dr. Hein said.

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