Talking Heads

October 20th, 2006 by kathy

Looks like J-school might become a thing of the past.

According to asap, researchers from Northwestern University have developed a program that turns video game character/alien-slayer, Alyx Vance, from “Half-Life 2” into a news anchor.

Katie Couric: you betta’ check yourself!

In their project, Vance is guided toward a news area — foreign events, say — and computers take over from there.

“Everything in there is automatic,” says project leader Kristian Hammond, co-director of the university’s intelligent information laboratory. “There’s not a single moment, from the begining to the end, of human intervention.”

The program scours the Web for an article that Alyx will read aloud on-screen through text-recognition technology that edits existing text for clarity, changing some passive verbs to active, for example. It then automatically inserts photos and video from related sites, along with a CBS News “Free Speech”-style segment that adds outside commentary from blogs, read aloud by a different “Half-Life” character.

Sounds super.

So, what about us journos who really have no other skills and have forgotten how to carry the one when subtracting?

Says Hammond:

“Then again, in the world of technology, he said, “Everything puts everybody out of work, eventually.”

You can read more about your demise here.