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China Reveals AI News Anchor, Almost Indistinguishable From Real Human

China Reveals AI News Anchor, Almost Indistinguishable From Real Human

By Shawn Lin of The Epoch Times,

“Hello everyone, I am the artificial intelligence news anchor on National Business Daily. I am the virtual twin of the original host….

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China Reveals AI News Anchor, Almost Indistinguishable From Real Human

By Shawn Lin of The Epoch Times,

“Hello everyone, I am the artificial intelligence news anchor on National Business Daily. I am the virtual twin of the original host. I have been running—reporting the news—undetected for 70 days now,” the AI news anchor N Xiaohei revealed itself to its television viewers on Dec. 20, 2021, after 1700 hours of a continuous live news broadcast.

(R) A screenshot image of the real-life news anchor on the “N Xiaohei Finance” program (L) N Xiaohei’s AI-rendered virtual twin in a blue background.

On the same day, the Chinese state-controlled media National Business Daily (NBD) and the AI company Xiaoice jointly announced the official launch of their collaborative live news broadcasting TV programs run entirely by AI—the first of its kind.

The TV program is named “AI Business Daily.” It will broadcast financial news 24 hours a day, seven days a week, hosted by two AI news anchors—named N Xiaohei and N Xiaobai—technically supported by Xiaoice.

N Xiaohei and N Xiaobai are virtual replicas of two real-life news anchors—a man and a woman. The Xiaoice Framework uses data collected from the two real-life anchors to train its AI models. Meanwhile, Xiaoice Neural Rendering (XNR) technology makes the virtual humans’ facial expressions and body movements look real and natural.

AI anchors have appeared in China’s TV programs in the past, but they could be identified immediately back then. Since the test launch of AI Business Daily on Oct. 11, 2021, N Xiaohei’s Douyin account—the Chinese version of TikTok—has accumulated over 3 million fans despite the real person not appearing on air for 70 days. Xiaoice, in collaboration with NBD, has demonstrated its ability to develop virtual replicas that are almost indistinguishable from real humans through advanced AI learning and rendering technologies, according to the Chinese state-run Xinhua News Agency.

According to the report, Xiaoice Framework’s small-sample learning technology allowed the two virtual humans to complete their training cycle in one week. Chinese business commentator Zeng Xiangling said that long training cycles were needed to train AIs in the past, whereas short training cycles significantly reduce the high cost of developing AIs.

Not only that, the Xiaoice Framework’s technical driver makes the end-to-end automation on AI possible, enabling the AI to collect, edit, and broadcast financial news all by itself. From reading financial information, generating text and graphs, and synchronizing with the pre-trained virtual anchor, the AI could broadcast a complete live video on the network without any human assistance.

“The era of an unwearied, safe, and reliable AI Being has arrived,” Xiaoice CEO Li Di said. “It is going to provide a steady news output.”

According to an NBD report, AI news anchors are modeled using deep learning neural network technology, enabling them to broadcast in Mandarin, English, and other languages. The advanced AI technology is now being used to upgrade and transform the Chinese media industry as well as its film industry. Since the success of the AI Business Daily program, each NBD news channel will now also fully collaborate with Xiaoice to create AI TV programs.

Xiaoice, or “Microsoft Little Ice,” is an AI system developed by Microsoft Asia in 2014. The company was formerly known as the AI Xiaoice Team of Microsoft Software Technology Center Asia. It is Microsoft’s biggest independent AI R&D team. In July 2020, Microsoft spun off its Xiaoice business into a separate company, allowing it to operate as an independent entity in China and other Asian countries. The Xiaoice Framework is one of the world’s complete artificial intelligence frameworks with the largest AI interactions globally.

Xiaoice CEO Li Di said in October 2021 that a large number of AI subjects were created in the past two years, and the number will rapidly expand. Li expects AIs to eventually outnumber the human population while incorporating diversity and individual customization.

On Oct. 20, 2021, the ninth day after NBD’s AI TV test launch, China’s State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television, released the section of the “14th Five-Year Plan” detailing its strategy for news broadcasting and audiovisual networks. The plan proposes to strengthen AI applications in its news production and broadcasting, such as promoting the widespread use of virtual anchors in TV programs and improving news production and broadcasting efficiency using AIs.

AI Risks

Artificial intelligence does not need to eat or sleep, nor does it get sick or need overtime pay, and now it can actively generate news content. However, many are also very concerned about the rapid development of AI.

Mr. Wang, a 20-year IT industry expert in Japan, told The Epoch Times that artificial intelligence has far surpassed humans in terms of calculation methods, performance, and learning ability. But the biggest problem is that it has no ethics, morals, or personal values. If this AI technology is in the wrong person’s hands, it could be devastating to mankind.

The current robotics technology is also very advanced. Some robots can even surpass humans or animals in many physical activities. Once AIs are given the ability to act physically, humans may not have the power to resist, granting the people in control of the AIs the ability to do whatever they desire, Wang added.

Senior media professional Shi Shan told The Epoch Times that the Chinese regime has no bottom line for fraud.

“[The CCP’s] AI technology can now produce a close-to-perfect virtual news anchor, but what is next? A fake politician? A party leader? Perhaps it has already been done,” Shi said. “The CCP is great at deceit. The international communities now have to pay close attention to the authenticity of China’s audiovisual programs and other media content.”

Big Data

Big data is the key to AI research and development: the more relevant data, the better the AI is trained. While rapidly developing its own artificial intelligence, the CCP deliberately limits the flow of Chinese data abroad.

China uses its massive population for gathering and developing its local AI technology. Tang Bohua, a patent examiner in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, told the Chinese publication of The Epoch Times that the CCP’s lack of regard for human rights and privacy opens up a huge data set for them, while the United States’ respect for these rights keeps data sets incomplete.

On Jan. 4, the CCP introduced a new version of its “Cybersecurity Review Measures.” The newly updated rules will require all Chinese network platform companies with data on more than 1 million users to undergo a security review before listing abroad.

A law professor at Taiwan’s National Taipei University of Technology, Christy Jiang, told Radio Free Asia on Jan. 4 that she believes the one-million user threshold most likely included all Chinese tech companies that may be seeking listings overseas.

A Strategic Priority

The CCP has prioritized AI development in recent years, making it a “key national development strategy.” It has mandated AI into many aspects of ordinary life, not only to surveil and control its people but also to use its massive population to spur development.

To bolster the rapid development of AI, the CCP has issued a number of supporting policies and regulations, including its “Made in China 2025” and “13th Five-Year Plan.”

In 2017, China’s State Council issued the “New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan,” emphasizing the significance of AI in helping the government understand and control society.

“Artificial intelligence technology can accurately perceive, predict, and early-warn the major trends of society. [It can] grasp people’s cognition and psychological changes and proactively decide the responses. [This technology] will significantly improve the ability and level of social governance. It is irreplaceable for effectively maintaining social stability,” according to the plan.

“It will have a profound impact on government management, economic security, social stability, and global governance.”

Hong Kong finance and economics columnist Alexander Liao said the CCP believes the emerging technology revolution—artificial intelligence—can bring new life to the authoritarian system, which was on the verge of collapse.

In 2013, the CCP proposed the “Modernization of National Governance System and Governance Capacity” plan and adopted it five years later in its 2019 plenary. According to Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese state-run media, the project is “a series of institutional arrangements aimed to make China’s governance system increasingly complete, scientifically standardized, and operate more effectively.”

In 2014, the CCP launched the “Social Credit System,” which linked the social behavior of all ordinary citizens with the large-scale monitoring system in mainland China. It adopted facial recognition and big data analysis technology to carry out large-scale social control with AI.

By 2020, the system has been integrated into almost all public service fields, including employment, education, loan services, travel ticket purchases, and more. This control method has been fully popularized in the form of “health codes” during the CCP virus pandemic.

“All measures of ‘modernization of governance’ are the basis for strengthening the CCP’s authoritarian rule to ultimately achieving totalitarian control, and everything is rooted in artificial intelligence,” Liao added.

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/14/2022 - 21:00

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Easyjet share price down 3% as pandemic losses hit £2.2 billion

The EasyJet share price shed over 3% today to give up a chunk of…
The post Easyjet share price down 3% as pandemic losses hit £2.2 billion first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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The EasyJet share price shed over 3% today to give up a chunk of the gains the budget airline had made earlier in the week. The new slide came after it announced a £213 loss for the last quarter of the year covering the Christmas period, taking losses for the Covid-19 pandemic period to £2.2 billion. The airline also told investors it is still burning through £150 million in cash every month as it struggles to build capacity back up.

The short-haul airline that makes most of its income shuttling holidaymakers and business travellers around Europe said it is still only operating at around half of its pre-pandemic capacity. However, it is hopeful that pent-up demand and an end to travel restrictions mean it will return to pre-pandemic levels by summer and enjoy much brisker trade than of late over the Easter and spring period.

easy jet plc

But before then the airline company will again have to absorb deep losses over the current quarter, which is traditionally its weakest of the year. Even a strong summer period, think most analysts, will be insufficient to see the company return to profit this year. EasyJet’s value is still less than half of what it was in February 2020 before the coronavirus-induced market sell-off that hit later that month and saw markets dive into March before starting to recover. The share prices of rival budget airlines Ryanair and WizzAir have recovered much more strongly in comparison to EasyJet’s and are now close to their pre-pandemic levels. There have been concerns around whether EasyJet could survive the pandemic but investors contributed £1.2 billion last autumn to bolster its balance sheet.

The EasyJet share price is closing the week at around £6.15 compared to over £15 before the pandemic. However, there is now hope the worst may be behind the airline and it can begin its, potentially long, journey back to health. Chief executive John Lundgren attempted to soften the announcement of another hefty loss with a bullish statement on where things go from here for his company:

“Booking volumes jumped in the UK following the welcome reduction of travel restrictions announced on January 5, which have been sustained and given a further boost from the UK government’s decision this week to remove all testing requirements.”

“We believe testing for travel across our network should soon become a thing of the past. We see a strong summer ahead, with pent-up demand that will see easyJet returning to near-2019 levels of capacity, with UK beach and leisure routes performing particularly well.”

For now, however, forward guidance for the immediate quarter remains cautious with the company admitting it has fallen short of its expectations to be at 80% capacity by this quarter, sitting at just 67%. However, with most analysts confident the company will eventually return to strength, and profit in the 2022-23 financial year, EasyJet shares could offer a good buying opportunity at current levels.

The post Easyjet share price down 3% as pandemic losses hit £2.2 billion first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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Xi Jinping Seeking “Global Domination”: Mike Pompeo

Xi Jinping Seeking "Global Domination": Mike Pompeo

Authored by Nathan Worcester via The Epoch Times,

Mike Pompeo said Chinese leader Xi Jinping wants “global domination—hegemony for the Chinese Communist Party,” warning that the…

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Xi Jinping Seeking "Global Domination": Mike Pompeo

Authored by Nathan Worcester via The Epoch Times,

Mike Pompeo said Chinese leader Xi Jinping wants “global domination—hegemony for the Chinese Communist Party,” warning that the rise of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) could destroy the rules-based international order in place since the end of World War II.

“It’s not about putting a Chinese tank division in Taiwan. It’s about accreting political power and influence throughout the world,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo, who served first as CIA director and later as Secretary of State under President Donald Trump, made the statement in an appearance at the Argus Americas Crude Summit 2022.

He said his tenure as CIA director came at a time when U.S. attention had to shift from terrorism to other threats, foremost among them the CCP.

He added that a “global awakening” is taking place about what he sees as the ambitions of the CCP.

“Most of the credit goes to Xi Jinping. He foisted a virus on the world, for goodness’ sake, and refuses to let anybody go figure out where it came from,” Pompeo said.

The CCP has met with international criticism for blocking access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and related facilities in Wuhan by the United Nations. Many scientists and journalists suspect the CCP virus that causes COVID-19 originated at the WIV.

Pompeo also commented on ongoing trade-related conflict between the United States and China, raising questions about the United States’ initial decision to open up to China in the context of its primary Cold War conflict with China’s then-rival, the Soviet Union.

“The trade war began maybe in 1972,” he said, referring to Henry Kissinger and President Richard Nixon’s visit to the People’s Republic of China in the context of restoring diplomatic ties.

“Maybe it was the right thing to do in 1972—but the trade war long predates the Trump administration.”

“We encouraged business together. I don’t fault the businesses who went there. Notice the past tense of this. America’s policy encouraged connectivity with the Chinese Communist Party. Today, that is an enormous liability for the world, and Xi Jinping knows that,” Pompeo said.

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/28/2022 - 23:00

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Authoritarian Madness: The Slippery Slope From Lockdowns To Concentration Camps

Authoritarian Madness: The Slippery Slope From Lockdowns To Concentration Camps

Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwal

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Authoritarian Madness: The Slippery Slope From Lockdowns To Concentration Camps

Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwald, the Auschwitzes—all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers.”

- Rod Serling, Deaths-Head Revisited

In the politically charged, polarizing tug-of-war that is the debate over COVID-19, we find ourselves buffeted by fear over a viral pandemic that continues to wreak havoc with lives and the economy, threats of vaccine mandates and financial penalties for noncompliance, and discord over how to legislate the public good without sacrificing individual liberty.

The discord is getting more discordant by the day.

Just recently, for instance, the Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board suggested that government officials should mandate mass vaccinations and deploy the National Guard “to ensure that people without proof of vaccination would not be allowed, well, anywhere.”

In other words, lock up the unvaccinated and use the military to determine who gets to be “free.”

These tactics have been used before.

This is why significant numbers of people are worried: because this is the slippery slope that starts with well-meaning intentions for the greater good and ends with tyrannical abuses no one should tolerate.

For a glimpse at what the future might look like if such a policy were to be enforced, look beyond America’s borders.

In Italy, the unvaccinated are banned from restaurants, bars and public transportation, and could face suspensions from work and monthly fines. Similarly, France will ban the unvaccinated from most public venues.

In Austria, anyone who has not complied with the vaccine mandate could face fines up to $4100. Police will be authorized to carry out routine checks and demand proof of vaccination, with penalties of as much as $685 for failure to do so.

In China, which has adopted a zero tolerance, “zero COVID” strategy, whole cities—some with populations in the tens of millions—are being forced into home lockdowns for weeks on end, resulting in mass shortages of food and household supplies. Reports have surfaced of residents “trading cigarettes for cabbage, dishwashing liquid for apples and sanitary pads for a small pile of vegetables. One resident traded a Nintendo Switch console for a packet of instant noodles and two steamed buns.”

For those unfortunate enough to contract COVID-19, China has constructed “quarantine camps” throughout the country: massive complexes boasting thousands of small, metal boxes containing little more than a bed and a toilet. Detainees—including children, pregnant women and the elderly— were reportedly ordered to leave their homes in the middle of the night, transported to the quarantine camps in buses and held in isolation.

If this last scenario sounds chillingly familiar, it should.

Eighty years ago, another authoritarian regime established more than 44,000 quarantine camps for those perceived as “enemies of the state”: racially inferior, politically unacceptable or simply noncompliant.

While the majority of those imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camps, forced labor camps, incarceration sites and ghettos were Jews, there were also Polish nationals, gypsies, Russians, political dissidents, resistance fighters, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals.

Culturally, we have become so fixated on the mass murders of Jewish prisoners by the Nazis that we overlook the fact that the purpose of these concentration camps were initially intended to “incarcerate and intimidate the leaders of political, social, and cultural movements that the Nazis perceived to be a threat to the survival of the regime.”

As the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum explains:

“Most prisoners in the early concentration camps were political prisoners—German Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats—as well as Roma (Gypsies), Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and persons accused of ‘asocial’ or socially deviant behavior. Many of these sites were called concentration camps. The term concentration camp refers to a camp in which people are detained or confined, usually under harsh conditions and without regard to legal norms of arrest and imprisonment that are acceptable in a constitutional democracy.”

How do you get from there to here, from Auschwitz concentration camps to COVID quarantine centers?

Connect the dots.

You don’t have to be unvaccinated or a conspiracy theorist or even anti-government to be worried about what lies ahead. You just have to recognize the truth in the warning: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

This is not about COVID-19. Nor is it about politics, populist movements, or any particular country.

This is about what happens when good, generally decent people—distracted by manufactured crises, polarizing politics, and fighting that divides the populace into warring “us vs. them” camps—fail to take note of the looming danger that threatens to wipe freedom from the map and place us all in chains.

It’s about what happens when any government is empowered to adopt a comply-or-suffer-the-consequences mindset that is enforced through mandates, lockdowns, penalties, detention centers, martial law, and a disregard for the rights of the individual.

The slippery slope begins in just this way, with propaganda campaigns about the public good being more important than individual liberty, and it ends with lockdowns and concentration camps.

The danger signs are everywhere.

Claudio Ronco, a 66-year-old Orthodox Jew and a specialist in 18th-century music, recognizes the signs. Because of his decision to remain unvaccinated, Ronco is trapped inside his house, unable to move about in public without a digital vaccination card. He can no longer board a plane, check into a hotel, eat at a restaurant or get a coffee at a bar. He has been ostracized by friends, shut out of public life, and will soon face monthly fines for insisting on his right to bodily integrity and individual freedom.

For all intents and purposes, Ronco has become an undesirable in the eyes of the government, forced into isolation so he doesn’t risk contaminating the rest of the populace.

This is the slippery slope: a government empowered to restrict movements, limit individual liberty, and isolate “undesirables” to prevent the spread of a disease is a government that has the power to lockdown a country, label whole segments of the population a danger to national security, and force those undesirables—a.k.a. extremists, dissidents, troublemakers, etc.—into isolation so they don’t contaminate the rest of the populace.

The world has been down this road before, too.

Others have ignored the warning signs. We cannot afford to do so.

As historian Milton Mayer recounts in his seminal book on Hitler’s rise to power, They Thought They Were Free:

“Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things and never had. There was no need to. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about—we were decent people‑—and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the 'national enemies', without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us.”

The German people chose to ignore the truth and believe the lie.

They were not oblivious to the horrors taking place around them. As historian Robert Gellately points out, “[A]nyone in Nazi Germany who wanted to find out about the Gestapo, the concentration camps, and the campaigns of discrimination and persecutions need only read the newspapers.”

The warning signs were there, blinking incessantly like large neon signs.

“Still,” Gellately writes, “the vast majority voted in favor of Nazism, and in spite of what they could read in the press and hear by word of mouth about the secret police, the concentration camps, official anti-Semitism, and so on. . . . [T]here is no getting away from the fact that at that moment, ‘the vast majority of the German people backed him.’”

Half a century later, the wife of a prominent German historian, neither of whom were members of the Nazi party, opined: “[O]n the whole, everyone felt well. . . . And there were certainly eighty percent who lived productively and positively throughout the time. . . . We also had good years. We had wonderful years.”

In other words, as long as their creature comforts remained undiminished, as long as their bank accounts remained flush, as long as they weren’t being locked up, locked down, discriminated against, persecuted, starved, beaten, shot, stripped, jailed or killed, life was good.

Life is good in America, too, as long as you’re able to keep cocooning yourself in political fantasies that depict a world in which your party is always right and everyone else is wrong, while distracting yourself with bread-and-circus entertainment that bears no resemblance to reality.

Indeed, life in America may be good for the privileged few who aren’t being locked up, locked down, discriminated against, persecuted, starved, beaten, shot, stripped, jailed or killed, but it’s getting worse by the day for the rest of us.

Which brings me back to the present crisis: COVID-19 is not the Holocaust, and those who advocate vaccine mandates, lockdowns and quarantine camps are not Hitler, but this still has the makings of a slippery slope.

The means do not justify the ends: we must find other ways of fighting a pandemic without resorting to mandates and lockdowns and concentration camps. To do otherwise is to lay the groundwork for another authoritarian monster to rise up and wreak havoc.

If we do not want to repeat the past, then we must learn from past mistakes.

January 27 marks Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a day for remembering those who died at the hands of Hitler’s henchmen and those who survived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps.

Yet remembering is not enough. We can do better. We must do better.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, the world is teetering on the edge of authoritarian madness.

All it will take is one solid push for tyranny to prevail.

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/28/2022 - 23:40

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