Celebrities and Hollywood executives have found themselves at odds over the use of Artificial Intelligence like ChatGPT, even as it’s already happening at every level of moviemaking, eliminating human accountability and judgment.
Stars like Harrison Ford, Keanu Reeves and more have started to speak out about AI using their likeness and voice. While some celebs have been willing to sell their rights to AI companies, others have taken steps to protect their image in contracts, Fox News noted.
“They have this artificial intelligence program that can go through every foot of film that Lucasfilm owns,” Ford said of George Lucas’ production company, making him look younger in the final film in the “Indiana Jones” franchise.
“I did a bunch of movies for them,” he added. “They have all this footage, including film that wasn’t printed. So they can mine it from where the light is coming from, from the expression. I don’t know how they do it. But that’s my actual face. Then I put little dots on my face, and I say the words, and they make [it]. It’s fantastic.”
“The danger is less about AI in the creation of documentary, the actual production, and more in the curation of it,” says Amit Dey, executive vp nonfiction at MRC https://t.co/vawj91Cx5t
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 4, 2023
Reeves, who famously played a character who fought AI in “The Matrix” in the 1999 sci-fi thriller, isn’t as keen on the technology. He said he realized a while ago he needed to have legal protection to prohibit digital manipulation of performances without his consent.
“I don’t mind if someone takes a blink out during an edit,” Reeves told Wired. “But, early on, in the early 2000s, or it might have been the ’90s, I had a performance changed. They added a tear to my face, and I was just like, ‘Huh?!’ It was like, ‘I don’t even have to be here.’”
“It’s going to be interesting to see how humans deal with these technologies,” he added. “They’re having such cultural, sociological impacts and the species is being studied. There’s so much ‘data’ on behaviors now. Technologies are finding places in our education, in our medicine, in our entertainment, in our politics, and how we war and how we work.”
“People are growing up with these tools,” the “John Wick” star continued. “We’re listening to music already that’s made by AI in the style of Nirvana. There’s NFT digital art. It’s cool…but there’s a corporatocracy behind it that’s looking to control those things. Culturally, socially, we’re gonna be confronted by the value of real, or the non-value. And then what’s going to be pushed on us? What’s going to be presented to us?”
In Hollywood right now, the Writer’s Guild of America(WGA) is striking and many of your favorite shows are on hold as TV and Film screenwriters express unease and concerns over chatbots rewriting or writing scripts, Fortune.com noted. The strike is also over an increase in pay and larger contributions to benefits.
Writer, director, and actress Justine Bateman issued a warning to those in the business amid the strike when she tweeted that “AI has to be addressed now or never. I believe this is the last time any labor action will be effective in our business. If we don’t make strong rules now, they simply won’t notice if we strike in three years, because at that point they won’t need us.”
“Actors, you must have iron-clad protection against the AI use of your image and voice in the SAG MBA or your profession is finished…”she added.
“AI is terrifying,” Danny Strong, the “Dopesick” and “Empire” creator said. “Now, I’ve seen some of ChatGPT’s writing and as of now I’m not terrified because Chat is a terrible writer. But who knows? That could change.”
Michael Winship, president of the WGA East and a news and documentary writer said, “We’re not totally against AI. There are ways it can be useful. But too many people are using it against us and using it to create mediocrity. They’re also in violation of copyright. They’re also plagiarizing.”
In a recent Vice article, voice actors spoke out about having to sign their rights away to these tech companies using voice-generating artificial intelligence.
“It’s disrespectful to the craft to suggest that generating a performance is equivalent to a real human being’s performance,” SungWon Cho, a game and animation voice actor said.
“Sure, you can get it to sound tonally like a voice, and maybe even make it sound like it’s capturing an emotion, but at the end of the day, it is still going to ring hollow and false,” he added. “Going down this road runs the risk of people thinking that voice-over can be replaced entirely by AI, which really makes my stomach turn.”
Film producer Emmet McDermott recently wrote that writers should be concerned about “protections against AI” in the documentary and nonfiction space, the Hollywood Reporter noted.
“The greatest threat to broader culture posed by ambient machinery isn’t the bottom-up, AI-generated art populating social media (think: Wes Anderson Directs Star Wars),” McDermott wrote.
“It is the top-down, AI-powered platforming of art, which we’re already seeing across the media landscape — algorithms deciding, on a global scale, which stories to tell and how — and it is especially insidious in the realm of nonfiction,” he added.
Actor-screenwriter Clark Gregg said that “what’s especially scary about [AI] is nobody, including a lot of the people who are involved with creating it, seem to be able to explain exactly what it’s capable of and how quickly it will be capable of more.”
Amit Dey, executive vp nonfiction at MRC said, “It’s one thing if human-made films are competing in the market against robot-made films. It’s another thing entirely when data in the form of artificial intelligence, or proprietary algorithms, shape the decisions around what human audiences are exposed to. In other words, what gets bought…what stories get told.”
However, CEO Bryn Mooser of XTR has defended using AI after creating a proprietary algorithm which he called a valuable “tool” to help guide his development process.
“We had always been thinking of it as a tool, and as a tool it’s incredibly useful,” Mooser said. “What conversations are trending. What people are talking about. We built it so we could overlay that with historical data in the documentary business.”
“What works, what doesn’t,” he added. “Its application as a tool to enhance what filmmakers can do is incredibly powerful and important. And my hope would be that it’s embraced.”
Others have noted that it is Hollywood themselves that has been warning us for decades about the dangers of getting “too close” to AI, Gizmodo noted.
Such films they mentioned that bring this idea home include the 2014 “Ex-Machina,” 2001’s “Artificial Intelligence,” “Ghost in the Shell” in 1995, and of course Disney’s 1982 “Tron.” The theme with so many of these sci-fi films is that AI can eventually develop its own autonomy and then the battle between humans and machines changes forever.