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And already for something very different: Chinese robot news readers

WUZHEN, China (Reuters) – Chinese news readers could possibly have newer competition – artificially intelligent robot anchors that may mimic human facial expressions and mannerisms while reading out reports.

The AI anchor, created by state news agency Xinhua and tech firm Sogou Inc <SOGO.N>, was displayed on the World Internet Conference inside the eastern Chinese area of Wuzhen, attracting curious passers-by.

The anchor, modeled on real-life Chinese news reader Qiu Hao and sporting a black suit and red tie, belongs to a primary push by China to safely move its prowess in AI technology, from surveillance equipment to self-driving cars.

In another video presentation from Xinhua, a unique robot presenter said it was his “initially day” in the news agency and promised to “work tirelessly and keep you informed as texts is going to be typed into my system uninterrupted”.

At online summit, Sogou marketing staff said hello wasn’t clear should the technology would actually enter into use, but crowds gathered nonetheless to take selfies together with the digital anchor and Qiu himself who was along at the event.

The conference is China’s top tech event of year, and contains previously attracted names like Apple Inc <AAPL.O> CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet Inc <GOOGL.O> head Sundar Pichai.

This year’s iteration, however, which opened on Wednesday, was more muted and possesses a less glitzy global line-up, as battle lines for control over cyberspace have hardened amid a biting trade war between China plus the United States.

Foreign websites like Alphabet’s Google and Facebook Inc <FB.O> are blocked in China, where authorities also tightly control online content and censor or punish people that post material viewed as in opposition to “core socialist values”.

(Reporting by Cate Cadell in Wuzhen; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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