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Known for his hyper-realistic style, Australian writer, director, and producer Baz Luhrmann is seen engaged in conversation with a unique companion: Ai-Da, a painter powered by artificial intelligence, in a stark, luminescent former taxi warehouse in Chelsea.

Mark Anthony Luhrmann / Source: Wikipedia

Ai-Da, the robot, comfortably identifies as female, and prior to Luhrmann’s arrival, she was occupied with a watercolor painting, intriguing onlookers who captured the moment in photographs. Luhrmann engaged Ai-Da in conversation, asking her about her favorite film of his, to which she responded after a noticeably long pause: Romeo + Juliet.

Navigating the AI Landscape: Fear and Fascination

“I am not fearful of AI,” Luhrmann stated confidently, prior to his presentation at the opening of the new art installation, Saw This, Made This. However, he elaborated that his lack of fear pertains to AI threatening his professional role as a director. His conversation with Ai-Da earlier that day included a question about the potential dangers of AI, to which she had affirmed, “Absolutely.”

Luhrmann acknowledges that AI, being a new technology, will be shaped by its applications – be they creative or malicious – as determined by humans. The emergence of AI has stirred conversations among writers, directors, musicians, and painters alike. The viewpoints vary, largely influenced by their personal experiences with the technology. There is growing concern among members of the Writers Guild of America, currently on strike, over the potential use of AI for scriptwriting. Fans of Frank Ocean have reportedly fallen prey to scams involving AI-generated music. Visual artists have accused AI models of using their work for training purposes without fair compensation.

The implications of these conflicts will shape the role of AI in pop culture for generations to come, leading to passionate debates. As the tech industry continues to evolve and disrupt, the necessity for a common set of laws, beliefs, and ethical guidelines governing AI use has become more evident.

Luhrmann’s Insight: The Human Element in Art and AI

Interestingly, Luhrmann points out that chaos – something humans can manage but AI cannot – is an inherent part of the creative process. He argues that AI lacks the capacity for the randomness and emotion that fuel artistic creativity. He acknowledges the fear surrounding the rise of AI, understanding that massive changes often result in unforeseen consequences. However, he firmly believes that, at least currently, AI cannot replace human creativity. This brings us back to the topic of Elvis Presley and the nuanced difference between impersonation and interpretation. According to Luhrmann, an AI can impersonate, but it lacks the ability to interpret.

Luhrmann reveals that he has already integrated AI into his work – using the technology to seamlessly transition between the faces of Austin Butler and Elvis Presley in his latest film.