While concern over the use of artificial intelligence grows, Disney is leaning into the technology. The media giant has reportedly created a task force to figure out how to incorporate AI and machine learning into nearly all areas of its business.
Disney had been working on incorporating AI and machine learning into multiple divisions of the company before the writers’ strike began, according to Reuters. The task force will develop AI applications within Disney and for future partnerships with startups.
Revelation of this task force comes as AI explodes into the mainstream, bringing with it debates over whether it’ll be responsibly used and whether it’ll take over our jobs. AI was one of the big issues being discussed by the Hollywood writers and actors’ guilds as they continue to strike.
CEO Bob Iger said he wants to get ahead of AI advancements to keep Disney relevant in an ever-evolving industry, according to Reuters. In May, Iger noted the risks associated with the rising use of AI technology, calling them “highly disruptive.” Although, following this sentiment, Yahoo! Finance quotes him saying the rewards outweigh the risks.
However, according to an anonymous internal source who spoke to Reuters, Disney thinks the technology will benefit the company as a whole.
The company plans to streamline operations while offering visitors a more immersive experience at its theme parks, amongst other applications, according to Reuters. It’s developing interactive experiences powered by AI and using machine learning to evolve, including robots like Baby Groot in Disney parks. Part of Project Kiwi, Baby Groot goes beyond typical Disney animatronics in their parks. The little guy walks around realistically, a milestone for Disney. Creating robotic actors adds interactive novelty appeal to Disney by creating lifelike renditions of some key characters. Check out Baby Groot’s evolution from his first steps to his sweet dance moves here.
But hanging over these innovations are concerns about job loss.
During a May earnings call, Yahoo! Finance reported that Iger joked about AI potentially taking over his job. However, this is a genuine concern for thousands of employees. Disney conducted three rounds of layoffs between March and May, eliminating 7,000 people to cut operational costs by $5.5 billion.
One of the critical components of the strike is the use of AI and an establishment of guardrails around the technology. Writers want to ensure AI does not diminish or take over their role in the writing process, or even use their work to feed the algorithm. Actors want to protect their likeness as studios look into generative AI that create scenes out of databases.
Disney was not immediately available for comment.