If your mornings begin with coffee and asking Alexa or Siri to read out the news updates, you’ll be excited to know that an AI is co-hosting a news show on Indian television. Yes, you read that right. India Today introduced India’s first-ever AI news anchor on March 30, 2023. Dubbed ‘Sana’, the anchor debuted on Aaj Tak alongside journalist Sudhir Chaudhary on the show called Black & White.
“Now, Sana is with me,” Chaudhary introduces the artificial intelligence-based media personnel to people watching the show. In a dialogue with Sana, he later adds and says: “And for the first time today, you'll be presenting the news.” In a while from there, the AI takes over until the show’s duration concludes.
Is Sana doing a good job? Can AI replace news anchors in future? As we watched Black & White screening Sudhir & Sana, these questions went on in our minds. Candid words about the new venture that we can think of are “impressive” (at the first instance) and “irreplaceable.” Reviewing Sana as a news anchor and figuring out whether such could be the future is a little tricky. However, here’s our take on it.
Like how BharatMatrimony’s Aadiya Iyer tricked women, one can’t easily say that Sana is unreal. From her appearance to the adapted body language, she nails them all. Unless we gave you spoilers that she was not real and rather an AI construction, you may have merely not realised the case and lived with the impression that she’s just like any other human journalist.
Apart from Sana’s visual features that were impressive, her voice hinted at what CID show’s ACP Pradyuman would say: “Kuch To Gadbad Hai.” When Sana took over the show to run through the audience with the happenings of the day, her way of speaking and communicating the lines differed and seemed to be a compromise on the human touch. During her debut, she said in her AI-enabled tone, “I’m happy about my debut...from today, each day we would meet, and I would inform viewers about top headlines. I believe that I will live up to the expectations of people.” Also noting that some Hindi words, for instance sajaaya was mispronounced as sazaaya, the view that “humans are bound to make mistakes” while robots probably don’t was taken for a toss.
One may think that Sana is the first one of her kind in India and with time we may improve in making such news anchors. Maybe or maybe not. But it’s more a NO to affirm that human and human skills are irreplaceable. Even if the show had Sana reading the news out to the viewers, there was always something missing and was unappealing.
In another on-screen presence video, the AI news anchor played the role of a weather reporter. For this time, she spoke English that sounded too mechanical and was crying for the charm of journalists who take extra efforts to add liveliness and feel to the content rather than spilling out mere statistical data.
WATCH: Sana turns weather reporter
In the launch video, Sana showed off her linguistic skills and greeted the guests in about three languages including Gujarati. The event was held in presence of PM Modi and other dignitaries.
Blame it on the robotic voice that turned the excitement meter off or the verbatim text she put forth with monotonous facial expressions, believers of AI ruling the future may have a rough race to win to make the technology a replaceable reality. To conclude, Sana might be stunning at work, but the way human journos report news is still unmatchable.
Will India's first AI news anchor redefine journalism?
Re-defining journalism to make it honest and better in all aspects comes as a huge responsibility. With journalists accused of biased coverage and agenda-setting, can AI speak the truth and give viewers a fair approach? The question stays unanswered for now, but it would be interesting to see how society benefits from the AI news anchor's way of journalism. If Sana's view of the world is expressed by enabling free speech without favoritism to a political party, religion, race, or other restrictions, there's surely an inspiration humans can seek from artificial intelligence.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)