Feelings on A.I.

Often, I sit down to check-in with previous collaborators. I love staying in touch. Making sure they’re okay, since heaps of people have been sick or struggling lately. Also, I’m such a glutton for creative inspiration, if they’re able to share what they’re working on!

What can I say? It’s the human in me!

Anyway, many of these people work on quite ambitious projects alone, or in smaller teams. Several have turned to ever-more-accessible generative tools or AI to automate parts of the process, including creative ones. They have to keep up with demand, maintain consistent quality, keep pipelines efficient for their limited resources, or just want to see what these tools are capable of!

I can empathise with frustration at needing a thing, and not being able to afford it. I mean, it happens to me all the time with “urgent, not important” tasks that would be amazing to outsource. And sci-fi is cool! The fact that we’re getting closer to living sci-fi? Even cooler! However, this got me thinking…

Why are certain techonological developments exciting to me, and others are truly terrifying? Recently I had an opportunity to explore my thoughts on it.

Firstly… What is this AI stuff? What’s the difference between cool AI stuff, and scary AI stuff? VA pal Melissa Medina posted this super informative video. It’s about what to look out for as a voice actor, when it comes to approaching potential jobs that cite ambiguous voice usage in the tech industry:

Melissa Medina on AI for VAs

There are plenty of these ambigously worded, online in perpetuity, TTS synthesised, spooky, scary, skeleton gigs out there.

My hope is that the niche these “generative AI” tools fulfill will be similar to, as a previous collaborator put it, “leaving behind typewriters for word processors in the 80s.” Though, it’s also misguided to believe this techonology won’t broadly affect entire careers. Are you familiar with the story of Hidden Figures? Entire departments of human computers had to pivot to engineering and program new electronic machines that could do their previous job faster. This is how we progress.

The hardest thing to make sense of, for me, is growing alongside technology while maintaining ownership over the physical parts of ourselves that go into generating that outcome – our likeness, voice, heck probably even our whole brains.

A typewriter is a tool we use to process words;
A computer is a tool we use to process words, only digitally.

My voice is the physical embodiment of my whole human experience;
They cannot be separated. There is no “only digitally.”

That’s where the scary stuff happens for actors. We are the masters of our own meat-suit. And we are now begging people, who do not have the consent to do so, not to create digital meat-suits of us to use in whatever way they feel so entitled.

In this way, I can see how painful it is for visual artists and writers to have their work exist in the strangest in-between. Their art and writing is the embodiment of their whole human experience, but it’s quite often overlooked in the AI debate. The creation of visual art requires external tools to produce it outside of their physical meat-suit: brushes, pencils, pens, ink, digital tablets or other physical objects.

It’s a shame to see artists continually asked what prompt they used, in which AI model, to create the piece that took them weeks to delicately craft by hand.

It’s a shame that voice artists are wiping any trace of themselves from social media, because their voices are being stolen for content they never would have willingly voiced.

It’s a shame that two of the world’s biggest entertainment labour unions are on strike, in a fight to keep human artists in the driver’s seat and be paid fairly for it.

What do you think? Will it ever stop? What are the possiblities of protecting ourselves as creatives… from other creatives? Do we want to? What are the stakes if we don’t? Do certain types of art suffer more from these tools than others? Where and how should we use these tools? Are they actually more useful than humans? Are memes bad? Is reposting this gif to get my point across a similar issue?

I have so. many. questions.

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