Ukraine Introduced an AI Spokesperson for its Foreign Ministry

In this post:

  • Ukraine announced an AI spokesperson for announcing its foreign ministry updates.
  • China and other countries have already introduced AI-based TV anchors, but Ukraine’s effort is the first official digital person from a government.
  • All official videos presenting the digital person will have a QR code and written links on the ministry website.

Ukraine has introduced an AI-generated spokesperson and named her Victoria, who will represent the foreign ministry and give statements on behalf of them.

Meet the AI spokesperson

In a presentation updated on a social media platform, the spokesperson introduced herself as Victoria Shi, a “digital spokesperson.”  She appeared dressed in a black suit and a pin in a Ukrainian flag theme with her hair pulled back.

Shi’s facial features and voice are a simulation of a real person who is a singer and a previous participant of Ukraine’s reality show Rosalie Nombre. But the Ukrainian officials said that the digital avatar and Nombre are two different people.

Shi’s body movements look real at a glance as she moves her hands when she talks and also moves her head like a news presenter, but her lip sync feels a bit off. The name of the spokesperson is a mix of two terms, as Victoria is after victory and Shi is an abbreviation of AI in Ukrainian. 

Microsoft recently published a research project on making talking heads with just one image and a voice note, but the service is only available to Microsoft engineers who are working on the project, and the company also said it is looking for positive use as the technology can be used to create deep fakes.

China, Pakistan, Kuwait, and India also introduced AI news anchors a few months ago on some of their local news channels, which were quite realistic, but Microsoft’s product seemed more natural, with good lip sync but jittery head movements.

QR codes will help fight any fake videos

The Ukrainian foreign ministry announced on Wednesday that the statements that the digital spokesperson will read will be written by humans and that it is the first time using a digital person in its history.

Shi introduced herself and her role in an introductory video clip released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), saying she was built for the protection of the interests and rights of Ukrainians abroad.

Dmytro Kuleba, who is the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, said that the reason for creating her was to save resources and time for diplomats. While mentioning technological adoption, he said,

 “Diplomacy, not only in Ukraine but all over the world, has always been a conservative sphere that was the last to innovate. We are changing this. Ukrainian diplomacy is now strengthening its capabilities and making a technological leap that no other diplomatic service in the world has ever made,”

Source: MFA.

A team of animators called The Game Changers is behind the development of the virtual persona, and it is the same team that made virtual content about the war going on in Ukraine.

Shi now has 54,000 followers on her Instagram, while she mostly uses the account for conversations about the diverse experiences of mixed-race Ukrainians and those who were brought up speaking Russian. It seems like a good effort to keep Ukrainians united.

The ministry also noted that Nombre agreed to participate and allow her resemblance to be used without any charges. It was also said that only the AI figure would be giving the official statements, not the real Nombre.

To avoid fake propaganda, all the statements that Shi gives will have a QR code for linking them to the written version on the foreign ministry’s website.

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