Digital artists and visual effects professionals recognize that artificial intelligence-based tools can contribute to the creative process. However, they complain that jobs are being lost, ethics are being questioned and this could lead to the “dehumanization of art” in a new episode of The Hollywood Reporter‘s podcast series Behind the screen. The episode is an edited version of an open panel discussion on AI recorded on October 19th at the View VFX and Computer Graphics Conference in Turin, Italy.

The panel included artist, designer and creative technologist Scott Eaton; artist and designer, Renderman, Dylan Sisson; VFX supervisor Andreas Maaninka; Richard Scott, CEO and co-founder of Axis Studios; and Daryl Anselmo, an artist and designer who works primarily in the games industry. Behind the screen host and THR Tech editor Carolyn Giardina moderated the discussion.

During the panel, speakers agreed that AI can be a useful tool in areas such as ideation and speeding up some of the more tedious tasks in the VFX space, but Maaninka acknowledged that this can have unfortunate effects. “I got into this to actually work with people, not to work with bots,” he claimed. “I still want to feel like I’m being creative and pushing the boundaries of my knowledge and emotions and turning those things into works of art.”

He added: “I love using it but I also hate it. And I feel like it’s a dehumanization of art.”

Several speakers said they believe jobs will be lost as AI-driven tools continue to develop. “Jobs will be lost,” Eaton acknowledged. “The AI ​​proposal brings enormous efficiency gains. And there are financial incentives for every company that employs people to be profitable. And the more efficient your staff is, the fewer people you’re likely to need.” This raises additional concerns about already tight VFX budgets. “I hope the budgets don’t go down. So we actually have the time that we can use [the work]said Maaninka. “But honestly, I think budgets are probably going to go down because they’re going to think, ‘Oh, this is so much easier.’”

Sisson added that, particularly in light of the recent WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes and related labor issues, these are conversations the community should be having. He added that when asked about the impact of AI on jobs, he was reminded of previous technology-driven disruptions in the industry. “I try to be motivating. And I tell them, “Yes, most likely you will lose your job.” I lost my job. When I started, before I came to Pixar, I worked with wax and paste, I worked on edutainment, CD-ROMs, things that don’t even exist anymore.” He added: “But at the same time, we have a place in the “First tier of technologies that no one in the history of the planet has used before.” And that’s kind of exciting.”

Scott reported that his company, Axis, does not currently use AI in production. “There are a lot of challenges for us as a studio to even think about using AI – anything [including] the kind of moral-ethical elements,” he said. “We even have clients who have asked us to change our contracts with them to say that we will not use AI when creating work for them and that all work must be created by humans.” And that is the actual sentence from the contract.”

He elaborated: “The contract essentially says that if you want to deploy any type of generative AI, you will ensure that you can make a case to that customer and they essentially choose to do so or not. And let’s face it, that means their legal team will review the situation and decide whether they believe there is a copyright risk.”

Eaton made a difference in where the AI ​​conversations take place. “You can see that people are polarized about generative AI, but everything else is just massive efficiencies and things that have been a pain,” he said, adding, “We’re talking about it too, and we’re largely focused on the entertainment industry.” But this technology is being pushed into science, medicine and engineering, and all of these things are connected to the real world to make things better and perhaps achieve things that weren’t possible two or five years ago. …And good things happen out there too. I think we creatively get into a little echo chamber of our immediate concerns.”

When it comes to creativity, Scott stresses that his studio ultimately still aims to hire talented artists. “Whether you use generative AI or not, you have to have a sense of taste and panache, whatever the right word is. So the same artistic principles apply to me.”

Of course, AI has reached this point and it can no longer be undone. Companies and individuals are now talking about using “ethical AI,” but when asked if panelists believe this is an achievable goal, Maaninka quickly replied, “No. Honestly, I think all technology will be used for bad by someone at some point. So I think there is the framework that needs to be put in place, which is laws and certain things.”

Speakers also discussed the issues surrounding copyrighted material. Anselmo noted that “open source (software) is another lens through which we have to look at this.”…Let’s say we’re in a world where it’s regulated and training data suddenly becomes something that… [requires] correct copyrights. Well, suddenly there is an open source movement too. So it would be like an underground that would probably weaponize and abuse the AI.”

Anselmo added: “I think society now, whether you like it or not, has some responsibility to help us define what is socially acceptable and what is not.

And from the perspective of the panelists, what are the misunderstandings about the use of AI? “That there is intelligence there. And that has to be the biggest misunderstanding in my opinion. And I’m not saying it won’t happen, but I don’t believe in it right now,” Scott said, adding, “I think the other misconception is that you can completely replace creative talent.”

You can listen to the full episode here:

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