The Coming AI Content Storm
The site PlayPhrase is wild.
Enter a phrase and instantly see a supercut with hundreds of movie clips where that exact phrase is spoken. To try it out I created three videos, one for each of these three phrases: “slow down”, “go faster” and “I’m so happy”. The generated videos are here:
When an AI is trained on a dataset with thousands of movies it’s hard for us humans to imagine what the AI is actually “seeing”. Since it would take us months to watch thousands of movies.
This search feature, however, gives you some idea. In watching those thousands of movies the AI will see the same or similar scenes performed thousands of different ways. So to understand what “I’m so happy” means, the AI can see thousands of examples of this phrase being spoken. The AI can see every different gloss on the phrase, how it can be earnest or ironic or even vindictive. The AI can learn a little bit from every movie it watches.
The AI is not just looking at the words it’s studying the casting, the costumes, the setting, and every aspect of the performance including the intonation, the phrasing, slight pauses and eye contact. Most of these are intentional and careful choices made by the creators of the movie, so they contain a lot of information. Repeat this process with thousands of different phrases across tens of thousands of movies. The AI will be able to learn a lot about people, and movie making, very quickly.
While it’s true humans are creating more content faster than ever before:
AIs will soon create vastly more content than our human output:
Much AI-created content will be bespoke, computed for an audience of one. Go look carefully at the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. These ultra-realistic still images of faces were dreamt up by an AI, they are not real people.
Computers will soon be able to do the same thing for moving images: they will be able to synthesize TV shows, movies, and more. At some point, Netflix will give you the option to choose the cast for a show you are enjoying. Make Brad Pitt the male lead in every show, or relegate him to demeaning bit-parts, it’s your choice. Create a tenth season of Stranger Things where the cast has not aged a day or synthesize a thirty-eighth Fast and Furious movie with the most outrageous stunts yet.
Humans will continue to make creative content because it’s something we love to do. Being creative is enormously satisfying. And human-created content will have a special cachet so people will still value it. People aren’t going to stop making movies. But these precious human-made movies will be quickly sliced and diced by the machines, human-made grist for the AI content mill.