Entertainment giant Walt Disney has initiated a dedicated task force aimed at exploring the potential applications of artificial intelligence (AI) throughout its diverse business operations, Reuters news report said.
This forward-looking move comes amidst debates within the entertainment industry about the implications and limits of AI utilization, particularly as Hollywood writers and actors grapple with concerns over its potential impact on jobs.
Launched earlier this year, prior to the Hollywood writers’ strike, the task force’s mandate includes the internal development of AI-driven solutions and collaborations with emerging startups, as revealed by sources familiar with the matter.
Walt Disney does not reveal its spending plan for IT.
Disney has 11 job openings focused on attracting candidates well-versed in artificial intelligence and machine learning. The range of positions spans various sectors of the conglomerate, encompassing Walt Disney Studios, theme parks, engineering division Walt Disney Imagineering, Disney-branded television, and advertising teams actively seeking to create a next-generation AI-powered advertising system.
Notably, Disney has not offered public comment on this initiative.
An undisclosed internal advocate cited the necessity for legacy media corporations like Disney to adopt AI technology as a means of maintaining relevance in a rapidly evolving landscape. This supporter believes AI could potentially help mitigate the escalating costs associated with movie and television production, a sentiment shared by other insiders. Current budgets for major film releases, such as “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” or “The Little Mermaid,” can reach astronomical figures of up to $300 million, necessitating substantial box office returns merely to break even. AI-driven cost-saving measures could yield long-term benefits over time.
The application of AI within Disney’s theme parks business is also being explored. Sources suggest that AI could enhance customer support services or facilitate novel interactions with park visitors. A former Disney Imagineer highlighted Project Kiwi as an example of AI implementation, where machine learning techniques brought the “Guardians of the Galaxy” character Baby Groot to life as a small, free-roaming robot capable of mimicking movements and personality traits.
However, the expansion of AI in Hollywood has encountered controversy, with concerns over its potential threat to traditional jobs within the industry. This issue forms a central point of discussion in ongoing contract negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild, the Writers Guild of America, and industry stakeholders, some of whom are currently on strike.
Disney’s strategic approach to AI has been characterized by a careful balance between innovation and established practices. Disney has a current portfolio of over 4,000 patents with diverse applications across theme parks, films, and merchandise.
Disney’s commitment to AI has been reiterated by executives and industry insiders, who note its focus on enhancing creative processes, developing cutting-edge technologies, and aligning with the evolving demands of the entertainment landscape. As Disney continues its journey into the realm of AI, its innovative efforts promise to shape the future of entertainment and redefine the boundaries of creativity.