Discover more from Random Minds by Katherine Brodsky
As if the topic of race wasn’t sufficiently addled with landmines, here comes along generative AI, which can be used to change anyone’s ethnic depiction in movies, TV shows, and games. On the one hand, in countries where there’s a lack of cultural diversity, it can allow filmmakers to expand their canvases and allow for richer storytelling and artistic expression. Or capture historical demographics with greater accuracy when is otherwise impossible. But on the other hand, it can also be seen as something no different from digital blackface—one that can be adapted to any race.
Why hire a diverse cast, when you can just alter someone’s appearance on a whim? And how does the person whose appearance is being shifted around feel about that?
So, is it ethical or is it creepy?
Here’s what a Czech company named Studio Paranormal has offered up as a demo of what’s possible on their Instagram.
What do you think?
Paranormal is using Stable Diffusion and other neural networks for its process, and this technology is only going to get better from here. Of course, not only in terms of race, but other factors like aging, reviving the dead, and other features. This is part of currently AFTRA/SAG actors are currently on strike, negotiating rights for their own likeness.
No doubt the technology is impressive, but are we heading in the wrong direction with this? Is it taking away opportunities from real people of various ethnicities? Is it encouraging faux diversity? Is it playing with the fabric of reality? Or is it no different than an actor putting on a costume, or an animator crafting a character?
Another interesting piece of software I’ve come across recently is Sanas AI’s real-time accent translation service. Take a typical Indian customer service rep who might be a bit difficult to understand due to a thick accent and put them through some AI software…the result? An American sounding service rep who is easy to understand. It’s a bit robotic right now to my ear, but will no doubt improve in no time. But is it erasing part of the humanity of the Indian rep, or is it just providing a better service and erasing the differences between us? What if the Indian person spoke Hindi, but the AI immediately translated it into English or any other language requested by the customer? Would it be a net good that bridges our world and makes communication better, or do you think it distorts authenticity?
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below to let me and the rest of the curious readers here know.
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