Ron Howard claims “AI is not going away”

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Amid ongoing discussion surrounding the role of artificial intelligence in the creative industries, legendary director Ron Howard has stated he believes it “is not going away”.

The topic of AI continues to divide opinion within Hollywood. Recently, Scarlett Johansson responded to OpenAI allegedly imitating her voice for a character named Sky on its new ‘Voice Mode’ service, which marked the second time she had been forced into a legal entanglement over AI. Johansson also revealed she had previously turned down the chance to record for the role.

Making a wider point about AI in the arts, Johansson shared her fears of the prospect: “In a time when we are all grappling with deepfakes and the protection of our own likeness, our own work, our own identities, I believe these are questions that deserve absolute clarity. I look forward to resolution in the form of transparency and the passage of appropriate legislation to help ensure that individual rights are protected.”

While this instance reflects the darker side of AI, which can lead to actors having their image or voice artificially replicated without their consent, Howard sees the positive aspects that can be mined from technological advancement.

During a new interview with The Guardian, Howard, who recently premiered his new documentary Jim Henson Idea Man at Cannes Film Festival, maintained that “AI is not going away.” He continued, “It’s a reality. We have to make it a tool.”

Although Howard believes AI is certain to play a prominent role in the future of filmmaking, he doesn’t believe it will ever develop the artistic mind to compete with humans, noting, “AI is about pulling from the world around, especially the internet.”

The director believes for AI to reach its full capacity, it needs to be combined with human intelligence which can bring the best out of the technology. He explained: “When we put in a prompt, it feeds us the average answer. You could follow up with more prompts and so forth, but it requires interpretation to move [from] average [or] pedestrian into some area that human beings are going to find fresh and interesting.”

Further expanding upon his point, Howard added, “It’s almost like you want to put in a prompt and then not do what it’s suggesting. Run in the other direction.”

In a similar vein of thought, Netflix CEO, Ted Sarandos, recently claimed that creatives should not be worried about AI taking their jobs, but they should watch out for humans, who are using AI, making them redundant.

The Netflix boss hailed AI as a “natural kind of advancement of things that are happening in the creative space today”, suggesting the platform would have no qualms to use the technology if it would enhance the product.

At this stage, AI is already being used in Hollywood, which Sarandos said is helping directors, writers and editors “do their jobs better”. He also thinks it’s helping make humans work “more efficiently and more effectively”.

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