Chinese State-Run TV Debuts Artificial Intelligence News Anchor

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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 :

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The Chronovisor: The Vatican’s Mysterious Time Travel Device

While many regard H.G. Wells as a genius for inventing the idea of the time machine in his novel, “The Time Machine,” some believe he was revealing a top-secret capability. Since his novel was first published in 1895, thousands of books, articles, and videos have followed, documenting curious accounts of time travel and dimensions beyond the wildest of imaginations.

One of these works, Father François Brune’s 2002 book, “Le Nouveau Mystere du Vatican,” brings a forgotten time-travel device called the Chronovisor, back into the public eye — or at least into the minds of conspiracy theorists.

Brune, who learned of the device in the early 1960s, swears the Chronovisor exists. A day after he met scientist-priest Father Pellegrino Ernetti for the first time, the two were sailing along the Grand Canal of Venice discussing biblical interpretations, when Ernetti explained that theories and interpretations were unnecessary when one could see the truth for himself. He explained to Brune how the Chronovisor functioned, allowing the viewer to both see and hear events of the past and future. His full account is included in Brune’s book.

With a little digging, researchers will find first mentions of the Chronovisor in a 1972 article published in the Italian magazine “La Domenica del Corriere,” entitled, “A machine that photographs the past has finally been invented.”

Belonging to the Vatican, the Chronovisor time machine is heralded as one of the papacy’s best-kept secrets. The device is said to be replete with three precious alloys, cathodes, dials, levers, and that it has the ability to display myriad historic events in biblical and Roman history. Acting as a sort of television, the Chronovisor has even supposedly verified the existence of Jesus Christ and broadcast his crucifixion.

The Chronovisor time machine is claimed to have been invented in the 1950s by a dedicated and secret team of Italian scientists, including physicists Enrico Fermi and Pellegrino Ernetti. Critics may take credibility issues with the fact that Ernetti eventually became a priest.

However, Enrico Fermi’s reputation is nothing to scoff at. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1938 “for his demonstrations of the existence of new radioactive elements produced by neutron irradiation and for his related discovery of nuclear reactions brought about by slow neutrons.”

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