Will AI CGI Mark the End of Actors?

As you probably already know, artificial intelligence has progressed by leaps and bounds in recent years. Back in the bad old days, when people talk about artificial intelligence, they’re basically talking about some glorified menu. The computer would go to a menu and laboriously or slavishly go through the decision tree. Most of the time it’s comical.

Basically, the computer would be faced with a typical “if, then” logical choice. If X happens, then the computer is programmed to do 1, 2 or 3, depending on the availability of A, B and C. That kind of stuff. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that that is rather simple, simplistic and leaves out a lot of life’s complexities. To say that that technology is laughable would be an understatement.

But fast forward to today and it’s scary. Seriously. It’s scary stuff because it’s like that scene from Terminator when Skynet has evolved so much that it’s basically taking all over the world, and it’s taking it by storm. And we’re talking about crazy machines that morph, heat itself, and send units back in time and all sorts of crazy stuff.

I’m not saying that technology has reached that level yet, although the famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking is on the record warning humanity about the dangers of artificial intelligence. But things have gone to the next level. It’s like the old artificial intelligence technology that I’ve described above had steroids injected into it.

That’s how fast the state of the art is evolving. In fact, evolving doesn’t even quite do justice to the pace of growth in this body of knowledge. I would say the more appropriate word would be “mutating.”

I know that brings to mind all sorts of images involving viruses and bacteria and other scary stuff, but that’s the more accurate word. Crazy stuff.

And if you think that’s worrisome enough, there is a new trend called machine learning. Seriously. When you turn on a piece of software and it interacts with variables or it gets data, it reconstitutes itself based on the patterns that it learns. In other words, it becomes smarter and smarter until it turns into a totally different piece of software. Scary stuff.

This is exactly the kind of technology we are going to face when it comes to computer generated imagery for the movies. A lot of the stuff that you see now, like for example, the CGI effects in Black Panther, that’s going to look like a cartoon as soon as ten years from now. That’s how fast machine learning is progressing.

And a lot of people are saying that the next step, well, to me, the next quantum leap, involves actors. In other words, thanks to machine learning, you will have totally believable, highly emotional, and really adept actors totally produced by computers.

It’s easy to see why this may take place because machine learning can pick up all sorts of emotional signals and send emotional signals back so the audience, regardless of where they’re from, regardless of their mother tongue, can react in a very human level. Scary stuff, but also, let’s face it, very exciting.

Don’t be surprised if we reach a stage where Hollywood no longer pays actors. Instead, they pay the programmers cranking out these AI machine-learning pieces of software.