AI Hype Versus Reality in Hollywood

For just about any problem you can think of, someone is offering a solution that involves artificial intelligence. AI can help solve complex problems like climate change and dangerous working conditions, the promise of the technology’s most eager boosters.

If you’re to believe one of the industry’s most powerful advocates and a featured speaker at this month’s South by Southwest conference, it might as well fit the much-infamous “Game of Thrones” finale.

“Imagine if you could ask your AI to create a new ending that goes a different way,” said Greg Brockman, president and co-founder of OpenAI, the conversational software ChatGPT and image-generation module DAL-E. The research group behind “Maybe put yourself in there as a main character or something that has interactive experiences.”

Rewriting an HBO show so that your digital likeness can slay dragons might seem a bit trivial for a technology promoted as artificial intelligence. But it’s an application that’s getting a lot of attention, including at South by Southwest (or SXSW), the annual tech and culture expo that outgrew Austin, Texas, last week with movie nerds, celebrities and with venture capitalists.

During the conference, attendees envisioned what chatbots, deep-fakes, and content-generating software would mean for the creative industries.

“Generative AI: Oh God What Now?” In a live podcast taping titled. Two technologists ponder how many creativity-driven jobs will be taken over by machines. In a “Shark Tank”-esque pitch session, entrepreneurs proposed new ways to integrate AI into entertainment, such as segmenting audio stems or automatically visualizing movie scripts. A SoundCloud executive told another audience that those who disapprove of AI-generated music sound “a bit like synthesizer haters” from the early days of electronic music.

And it’s not just SXSW attendees and speakers who are excited about the space. According to market-research firm PitchBook, venture capitalists have signed 845 AI-related deals worth a total of $7.1 billion so far this year, despite a tech market that says otherwise. crawling,

In Los Angeles, home to the entertainment industry and a growing tech sector, companies are already looking to bring artificial intelligence into the Hollywood production cycle. Santa Monica-based Flawless focuses on using deepfake-style tools Edit actors’ mouth movements and facial expressions after the principal photography was wrapped up. Playa Vista’s digital domain is bringing technology to bear on stunt work.

“AI can be an amazing tool to help democratize a lot of aspects of filmmaking,” said actor Tye Sheridan, who starred in films such as “Ready Player One” and the rebooted X-Men series. “You don’t need a bunch of people with expensive licenses or a bunch of equipment or a bunch of complicated software; I think you’re really opening up a lot of opportunities for artists.

Along with VFX artist Nikola Todorovic, Sheridan founded Wonder Dynamics, a West Hollywood-based company focused on using AI to make motion capture easier.

In a demo Sheridan and Todorovic showed The Times before their own SXSW panel, the software took an opening scene from the James Bond film “Spectre” — Daniel Craig walking theatrically along a rooftop in Mexico City — and The actor was fired to replace him with a moving, gesturing CGI character. Sheridan’s benefits are straightforward.

“I mean, you don’t have to wear those silly-looking motion capture outfits anymore, do you?” Sheridan said.

But for all the hype, some skeptics remain, wondering just how much of the venture capital-fueled enthusiasm is.

It was only a year ago, SXSW in 2022, it seems technologists are all over crypto. But soon, the crypto price declineregulator broke and industry base shattered, Even the metaverse — the other “next big thing” Silicon Valley has been pitching in recent years — has thus far proven underwhelming.

It doesn’t help that the tech entertainment space has its own trail of unfulfilled promises. Remember 360-degree virtual-reality movies? Remember 3-D TV?

The rise of AI in writing has also raised concerns by unions representing screenwriters, who fear studios could replace experienced TV and film writers with software. This year, the Writers Guild of America will call on studios to regulate their use of content produced by artificial intelligence and similar technologies as part of negotiations for a new wage contract.

“We’ve been through different hype cycles before, not only with AI but with other types of technological innovation,” said David Gunkel, a professor of media studies at Northern Illinois University who focuses on the ethics of emerging technologies. “And so smart thinking is always careful about how much you speculate about anything fundamentally changing, because in some cases it doesn’t.”

Even if the general AI hype is warranted, the question of what impact this rapidly emerging field will have on the entertainment industry remains one in particular, in part because it holds the key to creativity, originality, and the artistic future. Raises questions about people that don’t come up when a program does, say, an interview transcript or dinner reservations.

Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile said the standard of true artificial creativity has not yet been met by entertainment-oriented AI. Pointing to Alan Alda’s recent attempt to have ChatGPT write him a new sequence of “M*A*S*H”, Amabile noted via email that the software required substantial input from Alda, and yet Generated dialogue that was alternately inconsistent or incoherent.

“That doesn’t mean AI won’t ever be able to produce really funny sitcom scripts or exquisitely moving movie scores,” she said. “But it would have to be a different kind of AI. We’re not there yet, and I don’t think we’ll be anytime soon. In my opinion, anyone who claims to know when and how this will happen is deceiving.” Or engaging in wishful thinking.

Yet it seems hard to deny the potential impact of artificial intelligence. Generative programs such as DALL-E and ChatGPT have, in the space of a few months, gone mainstream, flooding social media feeds with machine-generated images and rags Interview That many PR reps would envy for their human clients.

AI doesn’t even demand that users set up a complicated crypto wallet or buy a pricey VR headset, and the technology is increasingly being integrated into search engines and social media apps in order to understand the appeal.

“Crypto and [the] The metaverse was two of the big trends that I think Silicon Valley and the tech industry at large were expecting to make waves,” BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said on stage at SXSW. His company added artificial intelligence to its personality quizzes. “I think AI is just a much better wave, in the sense that it’s creating a lot more useful things.”

“Don’t you think… we’re just churning through these fake trends until interest rates go up?” asked his interviewer, former New York Times media columnist Ben Smith.

No, Peretti said, this is not another bubble that is bound to burst. The rise of AI is similar to that of mobile phones or social media: “a massive trend that transformed the economy and society and culture.”

Amy Webb, chief executive officer of the Future Today Institute consulting firm, is widely bullish on the transformative potential of AI. In a recent trends report published by his firm, AI was the only tech vertical out of 10 for which its predicted impact was color-coded lime green — that is, imminently relevant — for every industry they tracked. , which also included entertainment.

Webb contemplates a world in which artificial intelligence programs are used to mass-produce many different versions of the same TV pilot, either to focus-test them before release or after In order to show different audiences differently.

Webb said in an interview, “I would bet sometime in the next few years it becomes this horrible industry practice, where you have to make a lot of changes before things green light.” “And then there’s a, like, predictive algorithm that tries to determine which version has the highest earning potential.” [money],

As promising as AI is — and as eager as SXSW panelists were to announce its widespread arrival — some industry insiders caution against expecting too much from the technology, too soon.

VFX-artist-turned-AI-entrepreneur Todorovic said a lot of AI tools that have gone mainstream in the past few months look fine on Twitter feeds but may not stand up to closer scrutiny. “Some of these things where you’re thinking, ‘Oh, I’ll just type this out, I’ll make the whole movie’ — I think it’s more like … You get the concept and you can go over and over.” Do work.

“It’s a bit of propaganda,” he said, “to think you’re going to replace all these actors.”

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