Photo Credit: ACT News / YouTube screen grab
For those who were privileged to watch the first Star Trek series these many decades ago, this report will provide more validation of the future once predicted by visionary television series creator Gene Roddenberry.
The world of Star Trek – a sci-fi series that aired on American television in the 1960s – included “communicators” (the forerunner of today’s cell phones) and video chat devices (forerunner of today’s WhatsApp, Skype and Zoom) as well as the starship’s talking computer (think: Artificial Intelligence devices such as Alexa Echo Show and Dot, Siri and Google Assistant).
But a female Israeli television news anchor and an international strategic consultant have joined forces to create the next step: an Artificial Intelligence digital newsroom anchored by avatars of real-life journalists. Meet ACT News.
ACT News is the brainchild of popular female Israeli news anchor Miri Michaeli and international strategic consultant Moshe Klughaft, who has served as a campaign manager for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett – in addition to other world leaders.
In addition to featuring Michaeli as the main news anchor, ACT News’ digital newsroom includes reports by a digital clone of prolific Israeli political journalist Amit Segal along with digital clones of several other reporters.
“This is how everyone will produce news in the future,” ACT News contends.
In India, the future is already here. Channel Iam.com founder Nisha Krishna’s avatar was introduced earlier this year as a digital news anchor for the digital media channel. Krishna’s avatar explains she is “capable of displaying natural human facial expressions and subtle movements . . . according to word pronunciation.”
“For the avatar that can be presented in English and Malayalam, only content text is required,” the media firm said on its website.
AI avatar news reader “Pragati” explains in a brief YouTube explainer video that she is “designed to provide accurate and unbiased news reports” 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
There are artificial intelligence video generator software firms that are already out there in the market for those who are tempted to dabble in this world.
Delaware-based Creative Reality Studio is one such app, produced by D-ID, that allows one to “generate photorealistic presenter videos by combining images with text at the click of a button.”
The free trial allows for a five-minute project to try out the software, and the follow-up monthly fees range from $5 (Lite) to $209 (Advanced) and on to “Let’s Talk” for customized plans.
But back to Israel.
“Presenting news editions through digital avatars and writing the news with artificial intelligence will lead journalists to focus on the core of the journalistic work: investigations, exposés, exclusive stories and personal interviews, and focus on subjects that are not covered in the mainstream media,” Klughaft said in a statement.
“Additionally, it will dramatically reduce costs for media companies worldwide and allow them to create better content,” said Klughaft. “ACT NEWS will continue to lead the news of the future on social networks and is currently working on additional developments to be released soon.”
There is still a long way to go, as seen with the accuracy issues encountered in newsroom trials with artificial intelligence softwares ChatGPT and Google Bard.
Nevertheless, that day is almost certainly coming, and along with it the question of job security for television news anchors who may see themselves replaced by avatars, while they are asked to work as street reporters, where many started out.
Shades of Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek.