Sci fi author Lavie Tidhar: Using Midjourney to explore ethics of AI

Sci fi author Lavie Tidhar: Using Midjourney to explore ethics of AI

Award-winning science fiction writer Lavie Tidhar is a busy man. Between his personal writing and enhancing initiatives, together with The Better of World SF anthologies, he works with animator Nir Yaniv on sci-fi movie collection by way of their firm Positronish, together with Mars Machines, about “a toaster and a espresso pot on Mars”, and movie noir Loontown. However when Yaniv approached him about one more undertaking, creating one thing utilizing the AI image-generation program Midjourney, he mentioned sure – with a number of situations.

The end result, Welcome to Your AI Future! – which you’ll watch beneath – is an unsettlingly surreal brief movie, set in a future by which the world has been destroyed, however one human has been discovered by an apparently well-meaning synthetic intelligence, which is eager to assist – to one of the best of its means.


Alison Flood: Who got here up with the thought on your newest undertaking?

Lavie Tidhar: The entire thing began as a result of I’ve a good friend who’s a sport designer and he began telling me about Midjourney with nice enthusiasm. I believed it was wonderful and instructed Nir to go and play with it. We have been very conscious of the moral discussions occurring, however we had no intention of doing something with it.

Then Nir phoned me up. And he mentioned, if we might do one thing like La Jetée, the French sci-fi movie from the 60s, manufactured from single pictures, that might be type of fascinating. The plot of La Jetée entails a person time-travelling from a post-apocalyptic Paris to our current – it was the inspiration for 12 Monkeys. We simply favored the technical facet of it: are you able to inform a cinematic story utilizing solely nonetheless pictures?

My first response was no. Then I believed, what if we use AI instruments to make a movie about AI – that makes it fascinating! I got here residence and began writing. It’s principally a futuristic AI attempting to speak to the final surviving human. My different observe was, if we do this, then now we have to guarantee that the narration can be accomplished by AI. The audio is made up of two AI-generated voices, female and male, which are merged collectively into a really disconcerting voice.

So each picture is a results of Nir asking Midjourney to provide you with one thing associated to a scrap from the story, is that the way it labored?

Sure. I needed to write instructions into the capturing script. What kind of pictures, what kind of feeling they should evoke. Nir then sat for 3 complete days and generated 1000s of pictures. I don’t understand how he didn’t go mad. Quite a lot of it was about truly form of forcing the AI into the suitable place. I believe Nir used himself as a seed picture for some pictures for the human.

We have been actually leaning into the “uncanny valley” facet of it. So every picture is improper ultimately. My favorite bit is I wrote in these rabbits, the place the AI is attempting to relax the human by displaying photos of rabbits. And it’s so disturbing! The thought is that the AI is attempting to do its greatest, however it by no means fairly will get all the pieces proper.

Rabbit depicted in sci-fi movie: Welcome To Your A.I. Future

Nir Yaniv

What are your issues round AI? As a author, do you have got worries about it encroaching in your territory?

These AI techniques, they don’t have creativity. They should be directed to do something, they will’t provide you with something new. I don’t fear about every other author on the planet, I don’t continuously fear that I’m in competitors with the 8 billion individuals who is likely to be higher than me at writing, as a result of the one factor that you may convey to any type of artwork is your self. It’s that distinctive viewpoint. And these instruments don’t have that.

There are official worries about companies utilizing AI as an alternative of human artists to avoid wasting prices. However from a artistic perspective, it’s actually nothing greater than a instrument that we bought to make use of and needed to actually work with it to attempt to get the impact we would have liked.

Do you have got any plans for different initiatives like this with Midjourney?

No – however I believe it was enjoyable to play with. I believed the end result was actually fascinating and we wished to leap in on the dialog whereas it was occurring, as a result of it’s shifting so quick.

It’s a priority that should you will be changed with a machine, you’ll be changed with a machine. However individuals mentioned the identical factor in regards to the digicam. They mentioned the identical factor about Photoshop, and we nonetheless want artists, and we nonetheless want individuals to convey that distinctive perspective.

It is going to take a interval of adjustment, however we’re nowhere close to the precise basic synthetic intelligence that now we have within the movie. I simply wished to speak about – and I see this from AI scientists as properly – the concept AI goes to take over the world and destroy humanity. That appears such a Seventies catastrophe film sci-fi model of the long run to me. If something, any evolving AI goes to be so closely depending on people.

So I wished to speak in regards to the concept of AI simply attempting to assist and possibly getting it catastrophically improper. The movie doesn’t recommend that it was the AI that brought about the destruction of the planet. It was individuals who did that, and the AI type of simply misses them.


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