Kuwait unveiled its first AI-powered news presenter. Could it be an ethics nightmare?

News presenter "Fedha" appeared on the Kuwait News' Twitter account as an image of a woman, her light-coloured hair uncovered, wearing a black jacket and white T-shirt.
News presenter "Fedha" appeared on the Kuwait News' Twitter account as an image of a woman, her light-coloured hair uncovered, wearing a black jacket and white T-shirt. Copyright Yasser Al-Zayyat/Kuwait News/AFP
By Sophia Khatsenkova with AFP
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Kuwait News introduced "Fedha," a virtual news presenter. It could read online news bulletins in the future but experts are concerned.

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A media outlet in Kuwait is launching its first virtual news presenter using artificial intelligence (AI). Named "Fedha," the AI anchor made her debut on the Twitter account of Kuwait News.

The deputy editor-in-chief for Kuwait News told AFP the move tested AI's potential to offer "new and innovative content" and the virtual anchor might be used to present news bulletins.

The presenter's blonde hair and light-coloured eyes reflect the country's diverse population of Kuwaitis and expats, according to the editor.

The video generated a flood of reactions on social media. Some praised the virtual presenter as an innovation, while others expressed their concern about the ethics of using AI in newsrooms.

But Kuwait is not the first country to unveil an AI-generated news presenter. In 2018, China's state news agency unveiled its own virtual anchor.

A report published by Goldman Sachs last month said AI could replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs around the world.

The report suggested the technology may also mean new jobs and an increase in productivity.

But the rapid rise of AI globally has also sparked fears over its potential to spread disinformation and erode trust in mainstream media, according to Brandi Geurkink, strategy and technology advisor at Reset.

Kuwait ranked 158 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders 2022 World Press Freedom Index

Experts are raising questions about whether replacing humans with AI could lead to less freedom of expression for reporters in the country. 

"I think that news broadcasting was of last bastion of truth for a lot of people to be able to see a person's face, hear their voice and understand who this person is and whether I trust them, is important," said Geurkink in an interview with Euronews. 

"I think that this adoption of AI actually just makes that more complicated and it blurs the lines even further. I think that's pretty concerning," she said.

For more on this story, watch our report from The Cube in the media player above.

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