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The Wall Street Journal reports on, a beta site from Northwestern University’s Intelligent Information Lab, that automatically aggregates a news broadcast, hosted by an avatar named “Alex.” (Actually, it’s Alix from Half-Life 2. In fact, the the whole presentation seems based around Half-Life machinima.)

As it stands, it’s hard to tell how impressive the results are. The voice is clearly doing text-to-speech conversion, but I have no idea idea where the text is coming from. The editions I sampled are short and coherent, but for all I know, the system just picked a topic—e.g., Will Ferrell’s new movie—located a news report on the Web, and read it. The graphics are appropriate, but, again, I don’t know that they’re any better than what you’d get if you took the top results from a search for “Will Ferrell” at YouTube, Google Images, etc. So, I don’t know what’s supposed to impress me. I’m not saying it’s not impressive. I just don’t know how.

(Yes, the project could use a good marketer.) [Tags: ]

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