Northwestern’s News at Seven has avatars report the news

Update: Chicago Public Radio piece on “News at Seven.”

Northwestern University’s Infolab, which is part of the department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, runs an interesting project called “News at Seven.”

In the “News at Seven” broadcast, avatars, not people, report the news. (It’s already gotten considerable press, but will launch a new beta version tomorrow, Monday, October 29th.)

Here’s a preview. (And more old newscasts can be found here or you can read the project blog).

Given my disdain for the broadcast medium, you can imagine the implications I draw from a nifty computer program that can generate video of avatars spitting out news stories. (Note to my broadcast buddies, I didn’t say I disdained the people or the reporting, just the medium).

That said, the avatars, in their present inception, do seem a poor substitute for real people.

Broadcasters, do you feel your job security is threatened?

2 thoughts on “Northwestern’s News at Seven has avatars report the news

  1. A professor showed us the original version last year and I would be frightened if I was a broadcaster. As long as the Internet can’t go out and do it’s own investigating, profiling and watchdog-ing, I think I’ll have a job for a while.

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  2. I hear you.

    I’m in the business reporting class right now, and doing earnings stories reminds me of sitting in bond court last winter. I can’t imagine it’ll be long before an avatar can put those kinds of stories together with some very basic data input.

    But I suppose it’s good to master those early and then move on.

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