Walt Disney has created a task group to investigate potential uses of artificial intelligence (AI) within the organization as a quick response to the recent Hollywood writers’ strike, which raised concerns about the penetration of AI into the entertainment business. The project, which has been ongoing for some time but has only come to light, intends to use AI to improve many elements of Disney’s creative endeavours.
Reports from Reuters indicate that Disney is taking a proactive stance on AI integration, recognizing both its transformative potential and the risks of falling behind if not strategically adopted. This move comes on the heels of a Hollywood writers’ strike that erupted over worries of AI’s impact on jobs, shedding light on the urgency of addressing these concerns.
Key insiders cited in the report emphasize the pressing need for media companies to embrace AI as a means to avoid becoming obsolete. The complex and costly nature of movie production often results in box office returns falling short of covering expenses, making innovation imperative for sustainability. Disney’s ongoing investments in cutting-edge technologies like mixed-reality “Magic Bench” experiences and “digital humans” highlight the company’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of entertainment.
Disney Research, based in Switzerland, has dedicated a decade to refining AI-driven human-like avatars, pushing the boundaries of realism and interactivity. Moreover, the deployment of AI-driven characters like the D3-09 cabin droid in the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser hotel showcases Disney’s evolving vision for AI’s role in enhancing guest experiences.
Executives within Disney are keen to stress that AI is not intended to replace human actors but rather to amplify the creative process and digital effects. Actors themselves have not yet opposed the integration of AI, with some appreciating its capacity to rejuvenate their appearances and extend their career longevity.
The groundwork for Disney’s AI initiatives was reportedly laid at their lab in Zurich, where significant advances in performance capture and digital human creation were pioneered. This technology has paved the way for the ambitious projects Disney is now exploring.
As the entertainment landscape continues to evolve, Disney’s embrace of AI appears to be a proactive step toward ensuring the company remains at the forefront of innovation. By leveraging AI to enhance storytelling, digital effects, and guest experiences, Disney aims to harness the potential of AI while respecting the contributions of human talent. The task force’s initiatives could set a precedent for other media companies looking to navigate the intersection of creativity and technology in the rapidly changing entertainment landscape.