AI in the Creative Industries Conference

Mar 2024 | News


 “Enhance creativity; keep the fun part; AI is a tool for creativity, not a replacement”

Kimball Thurston, Wētā FX

Sitting in the movie theatre at Park Road Productions listening to two people who live and breathe AI in their everyday lives was simply amazing. Wētā FX and the BBC very generously shared examples of how they’re using their own AI tools to do better business and make content that their audiences will love. These are both closed AI systems – proprietary software that has been developed to achieve creative outcomes and massively improve productivity. For the BBC, the work that was on show was the image transformation tools that are being used to digitise the company’s archive – no small task when you’re talking about millions and millions of both still and moving images.

While the tools and the images they create are mind-blowing –they’re mind-blowing in an exciting way, not in a “humanity is doomed” kind of way (some of that came on Day Two). Both companies are creative businesses first and foremost and have brought their values, including respect for creative work, into how their talking about and using AI.

We have so many examples where tech that was meant to be good for humanity hasn’t turned out that way, so it was great to hear of the BBC’s involvement in a media provenance project C2PA . Hopefully the expression “it’s never too late to start” will apply to cleaning up the internet!  The AI world already has some of the hallmarks of the start of the internet tech industry of the 90’s. Dominant players like NVIDIA (maker of GPU’s) and OpenAI are, in the absence of any effective regulation, making up their own rules to suit their corporate interests. Just like Google became the verb for search, ChatGPT has rapidly become the verb for generative AI.

The journalistic prowess of the BBC’s Laura Ellis guided us through Day Two. Laura is the Head of Technology Forecasting with the BBC Research Team, aptly named The Lighthouse, and has years (actually decades) of experience in technology. The key message that came through from all three of Laura’s interviews was the importance of humans and humanity in the development and use of AI. From Christobal Valenzuela at Runway, where the company’s byline is “advancing creativity with artificial intelligence”, to Joe Raeburn from 2UpGames, Midu Chandra from Datacom and Greg Cross from Soul Machines, everyone was talking about humans with AI, not an AI takeover. The use of AI data to better understand audiences in order to boost creativity and increase income was shared by Yves Bergquist, and Megan Tapsell (AI Forum NZ) and Professor Michael Witbrock (University of Auckland) explored data privacy, ethics, research, and the impact of AI on communities.

Paula had the great pleasure of chairing a panel on A Strong and Sustainable AI Economy with Sam Irvine (CLNZ), Claire Robinson (Toi Mai) and Suze Miller (Datacom). Challenges with rights, infrastructure and skills & training were all touched on, and it’s clear that there’s plenty more to be thought about (and actioned!) when it comes to ensuring that Aotearoa makes the most of this rapidly evolving technology (it might even help with New Zealand’s productivity issues…).