What does the future hold for storytelling — can a machine create cinema?

The release of the trail­er for Mor­gan provides fur­ther insight that Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence (A.I.) is creep­ing slowly onto the cre­at­ive stage. After ini­tial pro­gress was made in 1996 when IBM’s Deep Blue beat World Chess Cham­pi­on Gary Kas­parov, IBM’s Wat­son then beat human cham­pi­ons in Jeop­ardy, and more recently Google’s Deep­Mind conquered the ancient Chinese game of Go. Google Pho­tos gen­er­ates videos (with music) auto­mat­ic­ally from images on my phone. It’s becom­ing obvi­ous that deep stra­tegic think­ing is at least pos­sible using machines.

So, can a machine cre­ate a video nar­rat­ive? Could we tell the difference?

The unfor­tu­nate fact is, of course, that the Mor­gan trail­er is hol­low and poorly-paced (even with the help of an “IBM film­maker”), and the musi­cians behind the AI-dir­ec­ted “Eclipse” music video have dis­tanced them­selves from the end product.

Look­ing deep­er into each of these pro­jects, they still required a human hand to direct/collate/guide the machine — it’s a ground-up approach to AI, so there’s no “Wat­son Video Edit­ing Soft­ware” on the market.

How­ever, the build­ing blocks have already been cre­ated — the Google search engine uses nat­ur­al-lan­guage pro­cessing, and Wolf­gram Alpha accepts com­mands in basic Eng­lish. We now have (pretty good) auto­mat­ic web sum­mar­ies and head­line ana­lys­ers. There’s a reas­on why Google’s Prin­cip­al Film­maker Jes­sica Brill­hart thinks Zork’s lan­guage pro­cessing will heav­ily influ­ence the future of VR.

It seems that although we prob­ably have a while to go before cre­ativ­ity is real­ist­ic­ally threatened in any way, most people won’t care if some­thing has been cre­ated by com­puter. For example, much of the in-house pro­mo­tions we cur­rently see on TV chan­nels are pack­aged in a way that would­n’t require human inter­ven­tion — so per­haps it might not be that long after all (for spe­cif­ic situations).

So a machine can assemble a video (I even hes­it­ate to use the words ‘edit’ or ‘dir­ect’). But not very well — at least not yet. How­ever, as Lin­guist­ics expert Noam Chom­sky said, per­haps we are even ask­ing the wrong question:

“Think­ing is a human fea­ture. Will AI someday really think? That’s like ask­ing if sub­mar­ines swim. If you call it swim­ming then robots will think, yes.” 

via ibm.com and bbc.com