Discover more from Nutopia – by Sami Viitamäki
Why AI won't replace movie studios
Just because technology makes it possible, people don't always want it.
A Nutopia Weekly
One thing that technologists often miss about what technology will or will not replace is how humans work.
Many think an application will spread like wildfire because technology suddenly makes something possible. Very often, it won't because we don't want it to.
Stories, movies, books and games are examples of this.
We nowadays hear endlessly about how soon everyone will request an AI to make a story for us, with the setting, plot, actors, and other elements we'd like to see.
This is likely not to be a regular mainstream use case. Here's why.
Storytelling is an immensely effective way to transmit information and learning from one individual to another without the receiver risking life or limb.
Furthermore, stories are vehicles for bringing whole crowds together to discuss these learnings, enhancing their integration into society and building social bonds.
This is why stories are such powerful devices for interaction. Since the dawn of humanity, these flight simulators for life have passed on time-tested traditions, essential skills and lighter entertainment that still contain profound life lessons.
But compelling storytelling needs something more than putting together the elements we like. It requires a rush of insight resulting from genuine surprise.
Compelling storytellers are effective because they know how to repeatedly mix universally familiar elements with original twists and surprise their audiences.
And as mentioned, compelling stories are made even more effective when they become socialized, when we can discuss them, dive deeper into them, and learn more from them through our conversations.
We crave stories that unfold in a way we can’t foresee. And we want them in a format that can be shared and discussed with those around us.
The most apparent evidence of this are so-called open-world video games, like GTA. Technology has long enabled them to be highly personalized, down to the individual level. But even with this capability, and even as the games contain a fair amount of optional side quests, the main story and goals are always the same for all players.
Thinking that people might replace stories served to them with stories they told themselves, even with the help of AI, is missing the point about why stories work, both from the perspective of surprise and the social angle that make them so effective.
In addition to the above, even a tiny amount of work is still work. 90% of us will not want to start laying down the premise, setting, plot, characters, desires and needs, oppositions, themes, symbol webs, story worlds, etc., every time we want to see a film.
Even if AI made all that fast and simple our stories wouldn't be that surprising if we dictated what we wanted every single time. We wouldn't find these stories very interesting. And if everyone had their own story, we could never discuss them with anyone and would feel isolated from culture and each other.
This is why commonly shared stories, powerfully and professionally told, will always be a part of the human fabric. And it’s why studios as industrial and effective story machines are not going anywhere. But with that said, AI will undoubtedly enhance studios and stories in many ways—more about this in an upcoming Nutopia Feature.
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