Disney is jumping on the artificial intelligence bandwagon. The conglomerate has formed a task force to determine how the technology can be strategically deployed across various parts of its vast entertainment and media empire.
Reuters reports that the team is currently discussing how AI can be used to augment in-person experiences at Disney theme parks (presumably we’re talking about new animatronic robots here?), as well as how it could be used to cut costs related to digital entertainment and filmmaking (that’s assuredly bad news for anyone in Hollywood who likes having a job). At the same time, the task force is also said to be pursuing partnerships with various AI-focused startups, in the hopes of bringing different kinds of automation to the conglomerate’s myriad services and franchises.
Disney also appears to be in the midst of an AI hiring frenzy. Reuters points out that new job postings show the corporate giant wants to populate its Magic Kingdom with as many AI wonks as possible:
…As evidence of its interest, Disney has 11 current job openings seeking candidates with expertise in artificial intelligence or machine learning. The positions touch virtually every corner of the company – from Walt Disney Studios to the company’s theme parks and engineering group, Walt Disney Imagineering, to Disney-branded television and the advertising team, which is looking to build a “next-generation” AI-powered ad system, according to the job ad descriptions.
The fact that Disney is supercharging its AI efforts should surprise no one. Every company worth its salt is currently champing at the bit to become as automated as possible. It only makes sense that Disney—a longtime entertainment R&D pioneer—would want to lead the charge. Disney has longstanding AI development efforts but, in recent years, the company has sought to beef up its automation and robotics portfolio in an effort to stand out. From AI software designed to age and de-age actors to an animatronic Groot robot to its ever-improving movie special effects, the corporate giant has perpetually sought to make it known that its a central player in the field.
Disney’s decision to go all-in on AI also comes against the backdrop of the Hollywood writer’s strike, where entertainment workers have balked at the idea that movie and streaming studios could use AI to replace human creatives. Visual effects workers at Disney’s massive subsidiary Marvel are petitioning to unionize. Clearly Disney doesn’t give much of a damn about those concerns, since it’s charging full-steam ahead with investments in automation. From a corporate POV—where the only concern is money—this makes a lot of sense, though, from an outsider’s perspective, the development is more than a little disconcerting. I mean…AI integrations with theme parks? Has Bob Iger not seen Westworld?