This news anchor is actually an AI-powered robot

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There’s a reason this news anchor seemed a bit robotic.

China’s state news agency this week unveiled the world’s first virtual newsman.

The English-speaking “artificial intelligence” anchor for China’s Xinhua News Agency made its debut at the fifth World Internet Conference in east China’s Zhejiang Province — which began Wednesday and runs until Friday.

At first glance, the “anchor” appears to be an ordinary looking man, with the voice, facial expressions and movements of a real person.

“I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted,” “he” said in a monotonic voice as part of an introductory video. “I look forward to bringing you the brand new news experiences.”

A Chinese speaking “artificial intelligence” anchor has also been unveiled, with a different face.

Despite the convenience — and technical advancement — the new addition to Xinhua’s news team has faced its share of criticism.

Additionally, using a computerized anchor removes the element of trust that viewers usually form with human anchors, Wooldridge added.

“If you’re just looking at animation you’ve completely lost that connection to an anchor,” he said.

But Noel Sharkey, emeritus professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, called it a “good first effort.”

“We will see it improve over time,” he told the outlet. “The problem is that it could be very dull.”

News Corp. is a network of leading companies in the world of diversified media, news, and information services.


November 08, 2018

Sources: New York Post

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It made the search public because “you can’t quietly talk to cities about investing $5 billion and creating 50,000 jobs,” he said.</p><p>Shortly after the announcement, a group of Long Island City leaders, including Elizabeth Lusskin, the president of the Long Island City Partnership, a business group, and Alan Suna, the chief executive of Silvercup Studios, a film and television studio there, were meeting to discuss their plans to bring biotech and life science companies to the neighborhood. But they quickly began talking about Amazon, according to Mr. Suna.</p><p>Within a month, about 16 sites in the neighborhood had been identified, including the parcels along the waterfront eventually chosen by Amazon. The area is now a combination of public and private land that includes a distribution center for city school lunches, warehouses, studios and an outdoor bar and grill.</p><p>When New York City submitted its bid to the company, just a few weeks later, Long Island City was one of four spots proposed, along with Lower Manhattan, Midtown Manhattan’s West Side and an area in central Brooklyn.</p><p>By January, Amazon narrowed the list to 20 locations, including New York. Amazon visited in April, July and September, said a person familiar with the meetings. The executives narrowed their search to sites on the West Side of Manhattan and in Long Island City before finally settling on the Queens neighborhood.</p><p>Mr. Carney said Mr. Bezos did not tour any of the sites. The process was run by Holly Sullivan, who leads the company’s worldwide economic development. John Schoettler, the executive who oversees Amazon’s real estate, negotiated with the private developers.</p><p>During one visit, the Amazon executives visited the Cornell Tech campus, a new high-tech school on Roosevelt Island, and took the ferry from there to Long Island City. They rode Citi Bikes as city officials and local Queens representatives showed off the area. On another occasion, they took the ferry at sunset.</p><p>It wasn’t until the past few weeks that things really took off.</p><p>Gov. Cuomo met Amazon executives, including Jeff Wilke, who runs the company’s retail business, in his offices on Third Avenue. From the window, he said, they could see the site along the waterfront Amazon would eventually select.</p><p>“I showed them the pictures of the progress of LaGuardia, of J.F.K., Penn Station, Kosciuszko Bridge — I explained what doubling the span means,” he said, referring to building projects. He said Amazon executives were interested in having a pipeline of educated employees, not just from the top universities, but from other places such as Queens College and the nearby LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.</p><p>Amazon expressed concern about the city’s planning process, which is slow and allows for local officials and the City Council to veto projects. The company’s lawyers appeared to know about those pitfalls and wanted to avoid them. So Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Cuomo agreed to let the state control the approval, meaning there could be local input but no local veto. Mr. Cuomo said it was a “friendly condemnation” of the city-controlled land by the state, not a source of tension.</p><p>Though the mayor and governor met separately with Amazon, they were in close contact, comparing notes and strategizing over the phone, according to a person briefed on the talks.</p><p>“I know him so well, it’s just more open and verbal,” Mr. Cuomo said in an interview. “Whether it’s good or bad.”</p><p>Mr. de Blasio said, “I’m very comfortable that we made the right move.”</p><p>In Virginia, the initial HQ2 announcement came as the state was wrapping up a planning process to focus its economic development on tech, as well as diversifying away from government work. The request for proposal from the company “hit right in the bull’s-eye,” said Mr. Moret of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.</p><p>The proposal for Northern Virginia, one of three regions presented by Virginia, stressed regional cooperation. The Arlington neighborhoods of Crystal City and Pentagon City, as well as the adjacent Potomac Yards neighborhood in Alexandria, were rebranded into a new area, National Landing, as part of the proposal. That is the name Amazon used in its announcement on Tuesday.</p><p>Then after Virginia officials submitted the proposals in October 2017, things went quiet.</p><p>A few months later, Victor Hoskins, the director of Arlington Economic Development, was walking up to the stage at a conference with other development officials when their phones started buzzing with news reports that Virginia, Washington and Maryland were among Amazon’s 20 finalists.</p><p>“It quickly became, ‘Hey, we got three locations in that list of 20, we’ve got a good chance here,’” Mr. Hoskins said.</p><p>Amazon visited several times, at one point going up to the top of a tower, near Reagan National Airport, for a bird’s-eye view of Crystal City. But is was more down to business than New York. Catering was ordered in.</p><p>“Talent was at the core of a tremendous amount of our conversations,” Mr. Hoskins said. He said Amazon never discussed the incentives or proposals other locales offered.</p><p>Mr. Carney said inside Amazon, the team running the search decided at a meeting in August that it would be easier to hire the number of workers they wanted if they split the headquarters into two. (An Amazon spokesman later said the meeting happened the first week of September.) “We also think that 25,000 as a floor is easier for the communities to absorb,” Mr. Carney said.</p><p>The company did not tell the cities about the split immediately. When Mr. Hoskins first heard about it, he was conflicted. “You want the 50,000, but you know what, hey, 25,000 is a huge number,” he said.</p><p>By early November, local officials were feeling good. A small stage went up on an empty lot in Crystal City for the announcement, only to take be taken down quickly. It was premature.</p><p>After a final round to address the last details, on Monday, Mr. Moret was driving through rural Virginia when he signed the final state agreements digitally, his cell reception cutting in and out along the road.</p><p>“We had a call from them just an hour after we executed it saying we won,” he said.</p><p>The company said it would start hiring in New York, Virginia and Tennessee next year.</p>

    1 November 14, 2018
  • For University of Minnesota, Chinese Tycoon’s Arrest Shines Light, Again, on Sexual Assault

    For University of Minnesota, Chinese Tycoon’s Arrest Shines Light, Again, on Sexual Assault

    represents a setback for a university that has made progress on how it handles sexual misconduct. In recent years, the university has dealt with a series of sexual assault and harassment episodes involving students and faculty members, which have prompted a state audit and new campus policies. Now, the university is once again in the national conversation, and the focus this time is on a relatively new and lucrative academic program.</p><p>Mr. Liu, who has denied wrongdoing, was in Minnesota for a global business program, aimed at Asian executives, that is on track to generate over $10 million for the school in tuition since starting last year. His accuser, who has not been publicly identified, is a young Chinese student at the university who volunteered for the program.</p><p>The case “puts the university administration in an impossible situation” as it tries to simultaneously protect its students and its reputation, said Kristen Houlton Shaw, the executive director of the nonprofit Sexual Violence Center in Minneapolis.</p><p>“The program he’s participating in is a major moneymaker — it brings in these highfliers and heavy hitters from around the world,” she said. “Their prospective students are watching.”</p><p>The police conducted an initial investigation into the rape accusation and passed along the findings to the Hennepin County Attorney’s office, which says it has no deadline for deciding whether to press charges.</p><p>Mr. Liu was released less than a day after his arrest, and he returned to China. His company,, which takes in more revenue each year than any e-commerce competitor but Amazon, says he was falsely accused.</p><p>The university has not publicly spoken about the episode, and would not say whether it had started its own investigation. The university declined to say whether Mr. Liu was still enrolled in the program or eligible for a degree.</p><p>“The University of Minnesota cannot comment, per federal law, on matters related to any specific allegations involving any student at the university,” said Caitlin Hurley, a spokeswoman for the school.</p><p>Like similar programs at other schools, the university’s global doctor of business administration program caters to wealthy professionals like Mr. Liu who seek the cachet of an advanced degree. Some 236 students were enrolled as of early October.</p><p>The program, in conjunction with the elite Tsinghua University in Beijing, currently charges each student hundreds of thousands of dollars. The University of Minnesota plans to keep as much as $85,000.</p><p>The majority of the coursework is completed in China, but one week of the students’ second year is spent in Minnesota. For Mr. Liu’s class, the school arranged for lectures as well as entertainment, including dinner cruises and a football game.</p><p>The university’s Carlson School of Management, which runs the program, has declined to discuss Mr. Liu’s arrest.</p><p>Sri Zaheer, Carlson’s dean, called the program “extremely selective.” It appeals to business leaders who “want to reflect on their own careers, who want to figure out what it is that made them successful,” she said.</p><p>Advocacy groups say the uptick at many schools is the result of women becoming more comfortable reporting assaults, a trend that is likely to continue in the #MeToo era. The number of rape cases reported by the University of Minnesota to federal regulators in 2016 — 0.39 incidents per 1,000 students — is in line with four-year public schools of comparable size, according to an analysis of data from the Department of Education.</p><p>This summer, Mr. Liu and other executives in the Carlson program took classes on topics like family wealth management and global branding, and visited local companies like 3M and General Mills. The evenings were for entertainment, including cruises on the Mississippi River and Lake Minnetonka.</p><p>On Aug. 30, a group, including Mr. Liu and his accuser, dined at a Japanese restaurant called Origami, according to a restaurant employee who was working that night and text messages exchanged between the accuser and the assistant of an executive who invited her to dinner. The messages were exchanged over WeChat, a Chinese messaging app. The New York Times reviewed screenshots of the messages.</p><p>Dozens of bottles of wine were brought in from a nearby liquor store, Lake Wine &amp; Spirits. Two store employees confirmed receipts showing wine purchases totaling thousands of dollars.</p><p>Mr. Liu’s accuser had been invited to the dinner by another executive in the Carlson program, whom she had met while serving as a program volunteer, according to the statements she made to police and WeChat messages sent to her by the executive’s assistant. The executive asked her to sit next to Mr. Liu, she told police.</p><p>The following day, the woman sent WeChat messages to friends saying that Mr. Liu had raped her after the dinner. She told them that she had been “way too drunk” and unable to stop Mr. Liu from touching her while they were in the back seat of a limo, which she also recounted to the police.</p><p>When she was driven to a house she did not recognize, she asked to be taken back to her apartment, according to her statement to police. There, Mr. Liu forced himself on her, she told police. She told him “no” several times, she said.</p><p>A Carlson School administrator, Mandy Xue Bai, called the police in the morning after hearing about the alleged rape, according to the statements to police. Ms. Bai also encouraged the woman to report the incident to the police. Ms. Bai declined to comment.</p><p>“I am so very proud of our client’s courage, in coming forward and placing all of her trust and faith in the American justice system,” said Wil Florin, one of the lawyers representing Mr. Liu’s accuser.</p><p>Jill Brisbois, one of Mr. Liu’s lawyers, said that he was “unable to defend himself” because he “does not want to interfere with the process” while county attorneys decide whether to file charges.</p><p>“It is unfair to publish a one-sided story when once a determination has been made, all evidence will be disclosed to the public that will tell the complete story and we believe his innocence will be apparent,” she said in a statement.</p><p>A week after the accusations against Mr. Liu surfaced, a new group of executives with the Carlson program started classes in China.</p><p>Tiffany Hsu and Carolyn Zhang reported from Minneapolis, and Raymond Zhong from Beijing. Matt Furber and Christina Capecchi contributed reporting from Minneapolis.</p>

    1 November 13, 2018


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