When you go to the movies, how do you decide what you want to see? Maybe you're more likely to purchase a ticket if a movie is part of an established franchise in which you are already invested. Maybe a beloved actor or the buzz of awards-season brings you to the big screen. Or maybe a friend hasn't stopped raving about a recent release and you just have to check it out for yourself. Whichever reason brings you to the movies, the question has now become whether artificial intelligence (AI) can predict what you're most likely to see.
The next time you sit down to watch a movie, the algorithm behind your streaming service might recommend a blockbuster that was written by AI, performed by robots, and animated and rendered by a deep learning algorithm. An AI algorithm may have even read the script and suggested the studio buy the rights. It's easy to think that technology like algorithms and robots will make the film industry go the way of the factory worker and the customer service rep, and argue that artistic filmmaking is in its death throes. For the film industry, the same narrative doesn't apply -- artificial intelligence seems to have enhanced Hollywood's creativity, not squelched it. It's true that some jobs and tasks are being rendered obsolete now that computers can do them better.
Entertainment companies are entering the Age of Data, where they'll have access to more information than ever about their products, their audiences and how to create, market and distribute one to the other. Now, those companies and their leadership have to be ready to embrace the coming huge opportunities, especially as data-driven competitors such as Netflix, MoviePass and Amazon transform the industry. That was one message this morning from Stephen F. DeAngelis, CEO and founder of AI provider Enterra Solutions, speaking before a group of Hollywood technology executives in Beverly Hills. He noted wryly that Hollywood has portrayed AI technologies in dark or at least complicated ways over the years, from the murderous HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey to the world-ending SkyNet in the Terminator films to the runaway AIs of Ex Machina and Her. We're quite a ways still from AI with that kind of power and autonomy, DeAngelis said, but he cautioned that people think of AI tools in overly limited ways.
One of the most surprising biographical tidbits in McQueen, the new documentary about the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, is that he didn't know a collection could tell a "story" until he was several apprenticeships into the fashion industry. He was obviously a fast learner. Even among top-tier designers, McQueen became well-known for his theatrical runway shows. The half-dozen or so presentations we see in the film evoke Jack the Ripper, a mental asylum, sexual assault, robots, demons, goddesses, and animal chimeras. Not all the shows were well received.
Last year, Elon Musk made headlines by describing AI as a "fundamental risk to the existence of civilization." At the time, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg described such warnings as "pretty irresponsible." More recently, Google CEO Eric Schmidt suggested that the answer to fears about AI was to police it: "The example I would offer is, would you not invent the telephone because of the possible misuse of the telephone by evil people? No, you would build the telephone and you would try to find a way to police the misuse of the telephone," he said at the VivaTech conference in Paris last month. Others talk about the singularity – the point at which an AI suddenly becomes sentient – and use that possibility to stoke fears already fueled by dozens of sci-fi movies.
Remember the movie "The Imitation Game"? The tragic story of a brilliant man who decrypted secret German Enigma messages, indirectly shortened World War II, saved millions of lives, and was later charged for homosexuality, forced to undergo chemical treatment, and ended his life shortly after? The real Alan Turing accomplished many more brilliant miracles than this. He also published papers on theories of artificial intelligence (AI). In fact, the title "The Imitation Game" had little to do with the movie. It was a game he mentioned in one of his papers where humans will one day engineer a machine to imitate humans so well that a human on the other side of the room will be fooled he was communicating with another human. Turing was a pioneer in the field of computer science. Only after his death would he be known as the father of AI.
The vehicle that ran the one mile-plus lap is called Robocar, an autonomous electric platform that underlies a new robot racing circuit called Roborace, which is chaired by former Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi. The idea is that various teams will compete on challenging tracks using identical hardware and sensor packages. Each team will be responsible for its own AI and real-time computing algorithms. It's also the closest a coder is likely to come to getting behind the wheel of a high-performance race car in cutthroat competition. Robocar was designed by Daniel Simon, a German concept designer who's worked on Hollywood movies like Tron.
This post is part of Science of Sci-Fi, Mashable's ongoing series dissecting the science (or lack of science) in our favorite sci-fi movies, TV shows, and books. Star Wars is all action. You know, X-wings and lightsabers and fully armed and operational battle stations. Star Trek -- at least, the original series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager -- was less ... let's say, explosive. There were a lot of sensor readings.
In the last few years there have been numerous developments involving Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), and the ways in which both are being used are constantly expanding. On the video editing front software and tech giants have been heavily investing in AI and ML, and as a result it has fueled a wide range of innovations. Several years ago IBM made headlines when it created a movie trailer using its Watson supercomputer. Using ML, Watson'learned' from other movie trailers and subsequently curated and identified video footage that could be used in the trailer for the horror film, Morgan. Since then AI and ML have been used frequently to curate videos for editing.
Could behavioural economics and machine learning help to better understand consumers' movie preferences? A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge, the University of West England, and the Alan Turing Institute dove deeper into this question, in a fascinating study that combines behavioural economics, business and AI. Marco Del Vecchio, Alexander Kharlamov, Glenn Parry, and Ganna Pogrebna used their diverse skillsets to develop tools that could help the media industry to better understand what content viewers really want to see. Currently, the motion picture, media and entertainment industry selects content offerings based on top-down decisions, typically informed by expertise, experience, surveys and focus groups. "Our main motivation was to understand whether and to what extent we can put viewer perceptions at the heart of the equation," the researchers said.