We already know Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is one of the sticking points in both the SAG and WGA strikes. And we’ve already seen instances where fans have used fairly rudimentary technology to create some truly fascinating (and scary) content with this A.I. tech that is commonly found online. This has quickly raised a number of questions in the film/TV industry, with filmmakers and actors wondering just how far people can take this tech. One thing is for sure, folks are quick to point out the dangers of A.I. in terms of creativity and the human experience. And that’s something touched upon by director Tim Burton recently.
Speaking to The Independent, Tim Burton talked about his views on A.I. in terms of what he’s seen briefly online. The discussion came about when he talked about how he saw fans use A.I. to create different versions of his characters that he used in his various Disney films. While he admits that some of the work is “very good,” in terms of quality, there’s something far more frightening Burton noticed about how he felt when he saw A.I. used to recreate his own art.
“They had AI do my versions of Disney characters!” Burton said. “I can’t describe the feeling it gives you. It reminded me of when other cultures say, ‘Don’t take my picture because it is taking away your soul.’”
He added, “What it does is it sucks something from you. It takes something from your soul or psyche; that is very disturbing, especially if it has to do with you. It’s like a robot taking your humanity, your soul.”
That really gets to the meat of it, right? We’ve seen various other filmmakers say something to that effect. What scares creators is the idea that creation can now exist (and sometimes mimic things pretty well) without any sort of humanity behind it. And while A.I. is gaining popularity, it’s obvious that all that is being created are actually recreations of other things. The scary part is when society accepts the less-than-great facsimiles and doesn’t embrace new, original things.
So, as we see the WGA push back against studios hoping to use A.I. to help craft stories, there is a lot of uncertainty about how the technology will be used in the future of storytelling. And for Tim Burton, a man who has made a career out of being a one-of-a-kind filmmaker (for better or worse), the idea of technology being able to replicate his style not only is an existential threat, but it’s also a bit of a mindfuck.