Warner Bros. Is Using AI To Help Decide Which Movies to Make

In a big way it’s starting to feel as though studios don’t trust their own judgment when it comes to making movies and for some that’s not hard to imagine considering the flops that have come out in recent years. But using an AI to help decide just what movies should be made sounds like the beginning of a bad idea that could eventually get worse if people continue to lean on the service with increasing frequency. At the moment, as mentioned by Ryan Scott of MovieWeb, the AI is still fairly limited in what it can do, as the founder of Cynelitic, the AI company being utilized, had this to say:

“The system can calculate in seconds what used to take days to assess by a human when it comes to general film package evaluation or a star’s worth… Artificial intelligence sounds scary. But right now, an AI cannot make any creative decisions. What it is good at is crunching numbers and breaking down huge data sets and showing patterns that would not be visible to humans. But for creative decision-making, you still need experience and gut instinct.”

The good thing is that it’s being recognized that machines still can’t think around corners or get as entirely creative or intuitive as humans, but how much does anyone want to bet that someone is working on creating a more human-like AI at this point? That being said though it’s still a little disturbing handing anything off to machines that used to be the sole province of human beings due to the fact that movie-making is something that does require a great deal of intuition and experience that many machines just don’t have. James Vincent of The Verge has more to say about this.

Machines are going to go by patterns, trends, and what has been seen to make money in the past, and unfortunately that’s not always the best pattern to follow since it’s not a guarantee that people are going to watch what movies are selling at that given time since humanity might follow a lot of patterns, but patterns are made to be disrupted. Allowing an AI, a machine that basically looks for factual data that can be analyzed in order to give the best result, to predict which movies should be made and when isn’t any less of a crap shoot than when it’s done by human beings since even with patterns and hard data that’s difficult if not impossible to refute, there are still many variables that have to be taken into account when it comes to making a movie. Assessing a star’s worth after all is more than just their past performances and their current accomplishments. Some of the greatest stars have flopped the hardest in movies that should have made them even bigger and cemented their legend in a different way, so an AI telling a director or producer that it’s time to take this star, make this movie, and that it will be a box office success is kind of hard to fathom since it’s basically saying ‘let’s gamble’, just in a different and supposedly ordered and rational manner despite the fact that the variables are still just as loose as they always are.

It’s not so much a condemnation of AI as it is a cautionary step forward that prevents me from really saying ‘yay, what a great idea’, since AI aren’t murderous robots or demented programs bent on ridding the world of humanity yet, and hopefully they never will be. But it’s giving up just a small amount of the responsibility that humans have been taking on for so long that appears troubling since honestly it’s not entirely heartening to see or even hear about. The old ways of doing things aren’t perfect by any means but they’re hands on and they run under the precept of ‘you win some you lose some’. The instincts and experience that are needed to think up, conceptualize, push, cast, and then finish a movie from front to back are still best left in the hands of human beings since it’s a touch and go kind of operation that really needs the sensitivity of a human, not the cold, number-crunching efficiency of a machine that’s only thinking profits and nothing else. True, that’s what Hollywood is about, making money and then turning around to invest it all in the big movies yet again, but there’s a little more to it than all that since Hollywood execs still need to think about what the people want to see and how they’re going to deliver on that. Until they make an AI that can come up with ideas and justify them as more than just profits and losses, hopefully that never happens, this almost sounds like another step in the process to help maximize profits at best. Jennifer Bisset of CNet has her own opinion on the matter.

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