Kuwait introduces AI newscaster (photo)

A media house in Kuwait has introduced a virtual newscaster that works by Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The AI news presenter named “Fedha” (a standard Arabic word for silver metal) appeared on the Twitter account of the Kuwait News website on Saturday, 8th April. It appears as a Caucasian woman with blonde, uncovered hair, wearing a black jacket and white T-shirt.

The robot is programmed to say on introduction, “I’m Fedha, the first presenter in Kuwait who works with artificial intelligence at Kuwait News. What kind of news do you prefer? Let’s hear your opinions,” speaking in classical Arabic.

The site is affiliated with the Kuwait Times, founded in 1961 as the Gulf region’s first English-language daily.

The Kuwaiti media outlet releasing this invention explained that the view of robots being seen as silver metallic machines has influenced their choice of naming the virtual newscaster “Fedha.”

“Fedha is a popular, old Kuwaiti name that refers to silver, the metal. We always imagine robots to be silver and metallic in colour, so we combined the two,” said Abdullah Boftain, the deputy editor-in-chief for both outlets.

The invention of Fedha, according to Boftain, is to test AI’s potential to offer news presentation and content that are both “new and innovative.”

The news media Twitter account already has about 1.2 million followers, and developers are hoping to enable Fedha speak in the Kuwaiti accent.

The Kuwaiti virtual newscaster, Fedha

The presenter’s blonde hair and light-coloured eyes reflect the oil-rich country’s diverse population of Kuwaitis and expatriates, according to Boftain.

“Fedha represents everyone,” he said.

Her initial 13-second video generated a flood of reactions on social media, including from newsmen.

The rapid rise of A.I. worldwide has raised the promise of benefits, such as in health care and the elimination of everyday boring tasks, but also fears, for example over its potential spread of disinformation, threat to availability of employment and to artistic integrity.

Kuwait was also ranked 158 out of the 180 countries and territories in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2022 Press Freedom Index.