‘Alex’ the Anchor debuted on Russian TV.

Russia’s AI Anchor’s Not Exactly Cronkite

Russian-24 viewers of the nightly state news program were surprised to see a new anchor named Alex last week.

In an unhurried monotone, Alex reported that Moscow authorities were searching for a homeless cat that was supposedly kicked by opposition city council candidate Ilya Yashin in a grainy video, which Yashin said is a fake. The final news item featured an artificial intelligence conference at Skolkovo, a tech hub meant to be the Kremlin’s answer to Silicon Valley.

“I would note that the main hero of the exhibit of technological innovations was me, the robot Alex,” the futuristic news anchor said, cracking a rather gruesome attempt at a smile.

A story published by reported how the bot was designed to look like the founder of Promobot. Named Alexei Yuzhakov, the bot looks identical, down to the stubble on his face. It can hold a basic conversation using data uploaded into its brain. With 29 motors in its silicon face, the bot can make expressions, though most are lame or stiff compared to those on a real human face.

But not everyone appreciated these abilities. “It looks terrifying,” the Afisha Daily site said.

Considering the comments in response, viewers said “nyet” to the robot as a replacement for a human.

Russia-24 previously drew widespread ridicule when it reported on a “state-of-the-art” dancing robot at a youth forum that turned out to be a man in a costume.

Russian armed forces have developed robots like a “military cyborg” that slowly drove a four-wheeler in a circle during a demonstration for Vladimir Putin in 2015. They have also created a tank-like robot with treads and a machine gun, which is in the link below.