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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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A dog has caught monkeypox from one of its owners, highlighting risk of the virus infecting pets and wild animals

The monkeypox virus can easily spread between humans and animals. A veterinary virologist explains how the virus could go from people to wild animals in…

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A dog in Paris has become the first case of a pet contracting monkeypox from its owners. Cavan Images via Getty Images

A dog in Paris has caught monkeypox from one of its owners, both of whom were infected with the virus, according to a scientific paper published on Aug. 10, 2022. This is the first case of a dog contracting the monkeypox virus through direct contact with skin lesions on a human.

I am a veterinary pathologist and virologist who has been working with poxviruses for over 20 years. I study how these viruses evade the immune system and am working on modifying poxviruses to prevent infection as well as treat other diseases, including cancer.

With monkeypox spreading in humans throughout the world, my colleagues and I have begun to worry about the increased risk of monkeypox spreading from humans to animals. If monkeypox spreads to wildlife species in the U.S. and Europe, the virus could become endemic in these places – where it has historically been absent – resulting in more frequent outbreaks. The report of the infected dog shows that there is a decent chance these fears could become a reality.

A microscope image of a bunch blue circles in a brown-colored cell.
The monkeypox virus – the blue circles in this image of an infected cell – is a poxvirus similar to smallpox and cowpox and can easily infect many different species. NIAID/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

A species-jumping virus

Monkeypox is a poxvirus in the same family as variola – the virus that causes smallpox – and cowpox viruses and likely evolved in animals before jumping to humans. Monkeypox causes painful lesions in both humans and animals and, in rare cases, can be deadly. Researchers have found the monkeypox virus in several species of wild rodents, squirrels and primates in Africa, where the virus is endemic. Monkeypox does not need to mutate or evolve at all to be able to infect many different species. It can easily spread from animals to people and back again.

Though there is a fair bit of research on monkeypox, a lot more work has been done on cowpox, a similar zoonotic poxvirus that is endemic in Europe. Over the years, there have been several reports of cowpox infection spreading from animals to humans in Europe.

From people to animals

Until recently, most monkeypox infections occurred in specific areas of Africa where some wildlife species act as reservoirs for the virus. These outbreaks are usually contained quickly through isolation of infected individuals and vaccinating people around the infected individual. The current situation is very different though.

With nearly 40,000 cases globally as of Aug. 17, 2022 – and more than 12,500 cases in the U.S. alone – monkeypox is now widespread within the human population. The risk of any one person transmitting the virus to an animal – particularly a wild one – is small, but the more people are infected, the greater the chances. It’s a numbers game.

There are a number of ways viruses can transfer from animals to people – called spillover – and from people back to animals – called spillback. Since monkeypox is most easily spread through direct skin-to-skin contact, it is a bit more difficult to transmit between species than COVID-19, but certainly possible.

The case of the dog in Paris provides a clear example of how cuddling or being close to a pet can spread the virus. Previous studies on poxviruses like monkeypox have shown that they can stay active in fecal matter. This means that there is a risk of wild animals, likely rodents, catching it from human waste.

A grey rat.
There are a number of species that host monkeypox in Africa – like this gambian rat. Monkeypox can spread from humans to many other animals, including dogs and likely cats and other species of rodents. Louisvarley/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

The monkeypox virus is also present in saliva. While more research needs to be done, it is potentially possible that an infected person could discard food that would then be eaten by a rodent.

The chances of any one of these events happening is extremely low. But I and other virologists worry that with more people becoming infected, there is a greater risk that rodents or other animals will come into contact with urine, feces or saliva that is contaminated with the virus.

Finally, there is the risk of people giving monkeypox to a pet, which then passes it on to other animals. One case study in Germany described an outbreak of cowpox that was caused when someone took an infected cat to a veterinary clinic and four other cats were subsequently infected. It is feasible that an infected household pet could spread the virus to wild animals somehow.

How to help

One of the key reasons that the World Health Organization was able to eradicate smallpox is that it only infects people, so there were no animal reservoirs that could re-introduce the virus to human populations.

Monkeypox is zoonotic and already has several animal reservoirs, though these are currently limited to Africa. But if monkeypox escapes into wild animal populations in the U.S., Europe or other locations, there will be always be potential for animals to spread it back to humans. With this in mind, there are a number of things people can do to reduce the risks with regard to animals.

As with any infectious disease, be informed about the signs and symptoms of monkeypox and how it is transmitted. If you suspect you have the virus, contact a doctor and isolate from other people.

As a veterinarian, I strongly encourage anyone with monkeypox to protect your pets. The case in Paris shows that dogs can get infected from contact with their owners, and it is likely that many other species, including cats, are susceptible, too. If you have monkeypox, try to have other people take care of your animals for as long as lesions are present. And if you think your pet has a monkeypox infection, be sure to contact a veterinarian so they can test the lesion and provide care when needed.

Even though monkeypox has been declared a public health emergency, it is unlikely to directly affect most people. Taking precautionary steps can protect you and your pets and will hopefully prevent monkeypox from getting into wildlife in the U.S., too.

Amy Macneill does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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A-levels: A grades are up compared to pre-pandemic results

The pandemic has has a serious impact on school pupils – but a record number have applied to university.

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Fewer students are getting their first choice of university than in 2021. Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

The 2022 A-level results are in, and the number of students receiving A or A* grades has fallen – down by 8.4% on 2021.

For the first time since 2019, A-level results are being decided by formal exams. Students were warned that grades were likely to be lower than in 2020 and 2021, when cancelled exams and teacher assessments in A-levels led to record high results. Nevertheless, the proportion of students receiving A grades is up from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

A busy end to the admissions round is under way for universities and students, and the next steps for students still living with the impact of the pandemic are becoming clearer.

In 2021, some universities were over subscribed and had to offer significant incentives for students to defer their places. While the number of students in 2022 accepted on a UK university course – 425,830 – is higher than in 2019 and the second highest on record, it is 2% lower than in 2021. Just a few days before the results were out, thousands of students did not yet hold an offer of an university place.

Over the past two years, students studying qualifications, whether BTEC, T-level or A-level, have had to cope with the consequences of the pandemic for a significant proportion of their course. This has included school closures and remote lessons, social isolation, illness and increased levels of mental stress.

Highest number of applications

Nevertheless, 2022 has seen the highest ever numbers of applications to higher education, with 44% of 18 year olds applying. This number includes record numbers of students from areas of the country with historically low participation in higher education. It demonstrates that many young people believe higher education can make a difference to their future opportunities.

For the lucky ones who get the grades to gain a place at their first choice of university, planning for their degree course starts right away. A record number of Scottish students have already been accepted to their first choice of university.

The best advice for those students who don’t receive confirmation that they have been accepted by their first choice university is to ring the university, who will have staff on hand to explore their options.

For students who haven’t got a university place, it is still possible to explore options though clearing – which allows students without offers to find places on university courses that haven’t been fully subscribed. Students in this position should try to keep calm, write down their options and avoid quick decisions.

For those young people who do go to university, there will be challenges. With the cost of living for all rising rapidly, people on a lower income – as many students are – will feel the pinch of higher bills for food or rent.

Support from universities

The pandemic saw a serious and concerning rise in mental health issues affecting young people. Universities need to be ready to give holistic support to students as they transition into university and settle into undergraduate life. This means support for academic transition needs to be delivered in the context of good available support for mental health and wellbeing.

However, Universities UK, an advocacy groups for universities, has recently pointed out the wide range of benefits for those who study for a degree, including the £9,500 more per year on average graduates in England earn compared with non-graduates. It also draws attention to the value of degrees to improve the life chances of young people, to build skills and to contribute to society.

For many young people, getting a degree gives them access to a vocation such as teaching or working as a health professional. For others it is a path to travel and adventure. For many, the university journey is a place where young people find their tribe and begin to understand their identity.

For the class of 22, making it to university might mean life-changing opportunities. Given the challenges and restrictions of the last few years, this has never been more important.

Helena Gillespie receives funding from the European Union.

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German Official Trashes Cost Of Living Protesters As “Enemies Of The State”

German Official Trashes Cost Of Living Protesters As "Enemies Of The State"

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

A top German…

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German Official Trashes Cost Of Living Protesters As "Enemies Of The State"

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

A top German official has trashed people who may be planning to protest against energy blackouts as “enemies of the state” and “extremists” who want to overthrow the government.

The interior minister of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Herbert Reul (CDU), says that anti-mandatory vaxx and anti-lockdown demonstrators have found a new cause – the energy crisis.

In an interview with German news outlet NT, Reul revealed that German security services were keeping an eye on “extremists” who plan to infiltrate the protests and stage violence, with the unrest being planned via the Telegram messenger app, which German authorities have previously tried to ban.

“You can already tell from those who are out there,” said Reul. “The protesters no longer talk about coronavirus or vaccination. But they are now misusing people’s worries and fears in other fields. (…) It’s almost something like new enemies of the state that are establishing themselves.”

Despite the very real threat of potential blackouts, power grid failures and gas shortages, Reul claimed such issues were feeding “conspiracy theory narratives.”

However, it’s no “conspiracy theory” that Germans across the country have been panic buying stoves, firewood and electric heaters as the government tells them thermostats will be limited to 19C in public buildings and that sports arenas and exhibition halls will be used as ‘warm up spaces’ this winter to help freezing citizens who are unable to afford skyrocketing energy bills.

As Remix News reports, blaming right-wing conspiracy theorists for a crisis caused by Germany’s sanctions on Russia and is suicidal dependence on green energy is pretty rich.

“Reul, like the country’s federal interior minister, Nancy Faeser, is attempting to tie right-wing ideology and protests against Covid-19 policies to any potential protests in the winter.”

“While some on the right, such as the Alternative for Germany (AfD), have stressed that the government’s sanctions against Russia are the primary factor driving the current energy crisis, they have not advocated an “overthrow” of the government. Instead, they have stressed the need to restart the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, end energy sanctions against Russia, and push for a peaceful solution to end the war.”

Indeed, energy shortages and the cost of living crisis are issues that are of major concern to everyone, no matter where they are on the political spectrum.

To claim that people worried about heating their homes and putting food on the table this winter are all “enemies of the state” is an utter outrage.

As we highlighted last week, the president of the Thuringian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Stephan Kramer, said energy crisis riots would make anti-lockdown unrest look like a “children’s birthday party.”

“Mass protests and riots are just as conceivable as concrete acts of violence against things and people, as well as classic terrorism to overthrow it,” Kramer told ZDF.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Thu, 08/18/2022 - 03:30

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