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Artificial Intelligence could make soaps to rival the BBC in just FIVE YEARS, Slow Horses director reveals – as he tells MPs that British stories can be ‘enabled’ by technology

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A director of Apple TV’s hit series Slow Horses has told MPs that Artificial Intelligence could create soaps to rival the BBC in less than five years.

James Hawes spoke to politicians at the UK culture, media and sport committee’s inquiry into British film and high-end TV, and the impact of technology on the industry.

During the inquiry, James shared the findings of a forum that was held after the news that the BBC’s long-running soap Doctors would be axed at the end of the year.

The soap had been plagued by falling ratings, after a bid to move the soap to a primetime slot failed to draw in new audiences.  

James, who is the vice-chairman of Directors UK, told MPs: ‘One of the members there started talking about AI and it sent me investigating into how long it would be before a show like Doctors can be made entirely by generative AI and I took a poll with various VFX people….’

A director of Apple TV's Slow Horses has told MPs that Artificial Intelligence could create soaps to rival the BBC in less than five years (EastEnders' Jacqueline Jossa pictured)

A director of Apple TV’s Slow Horses has told MPs that Artificial Intelligence could create soaps to rival the BBC in less than five years (EastEnders’ Jacqueline Jossa pictured)

‘I then spoke to some of the legal team who advised SAG(-AFTRA) and (the) Writers Guild (of America) over the summer ahead of coming here.

‘And the best guess is between three to five years, somebody (will) be able to say ”create a scene in an ER room where a doctor comes in, he’s having an affair with a woman so they’re flirting, and somebody’s dying on the table” and it will start to create it and you will build those and it will be generative AI.’

‘It may not be as polished as we’d been used to but that’s how close we’re getting and I find that hard to believe, for all the creatives involved.’

‘I believe the genie’s out of the bottle, I believe we have to live with this. I think it also is incredibly enabling.

‘I think there are all parts of storytelling and British storytelling that can be filled in, enabled by this, but we have to protect the rights holders.’

James also told MPs that Slow Horses, a series which he directed, was rejected by multiple British broadcasters before being picked up by AppleTV+. 

‘When Apple did pick it up,’ he said, ‘they wondered whether it was just too quirky, and too British, and whether this will travel even though, obviously, we have a reputation for the spy genre.

‘The attachment of Gary Oldman (and) its subsequent success, shows that even ‘quirky British’ can travel and it is now the longest-running repeated series on Apple.

James Hawes spoke to politicians at the UK culture, media and sport committee's inquiry into British film and high-end TV, and the impact of technology on the industry

James Hawes spoke to politicians at the UK culture, media and sport committee’s inquiry into British film and high-end TV, and the impact of technology on the industry

James also told MPs that Slow Horses, a series which he directed, was rejected by multiple British broadcasters before being picked up by AppleTV+

James also told MPs that Slow Horses, a series which he directed, was rejected by multiple British broadcasters before being picked up by AppleTV+

‘It has shown that we can think beyond British parochial or we can turn British smaller stories into ones that have an outward glance, and that have universal themes.

‘I think that’s really important. We have to be aware of the balance, the critical balance, between the benefits of inward investment and having our own domestic industry.’

Developments in artificial intelligence, including the rise of ChatGPT, has put multiple industries under threat in recent years.

Earlier this week, a ‘terrifying’ new tool, Sora, capable of producing hyper-realistic videos from text, prompted warnings from experts.

Sora, unveiled by Open AI on Thursday, demonstrates powerful examples such as drone footage of Tokyo in the snow, the waves crashing against the cliffs of Big Sur or a grandmother enjoying a birthday party.

Experts have warned the new artificial intelligence tool could wipe out entire industries such as film production and lead to a rise in deep fake videos ahead of the pivotal US presidential election.

‘Generative AI tools are evolving so rapidly, and we have social networks, which leads to an Achilles heel in our democracy and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time,’ Oren Etzioni, founder of TruMedia.org, told CBS.

‘As we’re trying to sort this out we’re coming up against one of the most consequential elections in history,’ he added. 

The quality of AI-generated images, audio and video has rapidly increased over the past year, with companies such as OpenAI, Google, Meta and Stable Diffusion racing to make more advanced and accessible tools.

‘Sora is able to generate complex scenes with multiple characters, specific types of motion, and accurate details of the subject and background’ OpenAI explains on its website.

‘The model understands not only what the user has asked for in the prompt, but also how those things exist in the physical world.’

The tool is currently being tested and evaluated for potential safety risks, with no date for a public release yet available.

The company has unveiled examples that are unlikely to be offensive, but experts warn the new technology could unleash a new wave of extremely lifelike deepfakes.

‘We’re trying to build this airplane as we’re flying it, and it’s going to land in November if not before, and we don’t have the Federal Aviation Administration, we don’t have the history and we don’t have the tools in place to do this,’ Etzioni warned.

Sora ‘will make it even easier for malicious actors to generate high-quality video deepfakes, and give them greater flexibility to create videos that could be used for offensive purposes,’ Dr. Andrew Newell, chief scientific officer for identify verification firm, iProov, told CBS.

‘Voice actors or people who make short videos for video games, education purposes or ads will be the most immediately affected,’ Newell warned.

Deep fake videos, including of a sexual nature, are becoming an increasing problem, for private individuals as well as those with a public profile.

‘Look where we’ve come just in a year of image generation. Where are we going to be in a year?’ Michael Gracey, a film director and visual effects expert told the Washington Post. 

Earlier this week, a 'terrifying' new tool, Sora, capable of producing hyper-realistic videos from text, prompted warnings from experts

Earlier this week, a ‘terrifying’ new tool, Sora, capable of producing hyper-realistic videos from text, prompted warnings from experts 

Another AI-generated video of Tokyo in the snow has shocked experts with its realism

Another AI-generated video of Tokyo in the snow has shocked experts with its realism  

‘We’ll be taking several important safety steps ahead of making Sora available in OpenAI’s products’ the company wrote.

‘We are working with red teamers — domain experts in areas like misinformation, hateful content, and bias — who will be adversarially testing the model.

Adding: ‘We’re also building tools to help detect misleading content such as a detection classifier that can tell when a video was generated by Sora.’ 

Deep fake images gained added attention earlier this year when AI generated sexual images of Taylor Swift circulated on social media.

The images originated on website Celeb Jihad, showing Swift in a series of sexual acts while dressed in Kansas City Chief memorabilia and in the stadium. 

The star was left ‘furious’ and considering legal action. 

President Joe Biden has also spoken about the use of AI and revealed he has fallen for deepfakes of his own voice

‘It’s already happening. AI devices are being used to deceive people. Deep fakes use AI-generated audio and video to smear reputations,’ Biden said, and ‘spread fake news and commit fraud.’ 

‘With AI, fraudsters can take three seconds recording of your voice. I’ve watched one of me a couple of times – I said, ‘When the hell did I say that?” Biden told a crowd of officials. 

Then he spoke about the capacity of the technology to fool people through scams. IT experts have also warned of the potential of abuse of AI technology in the political space.

On Friday several major technology companies signed a pact to take ‘reasonable precautions’ to prevent artificial intelligence tools from being used to disrupt democratic elections around the world.

Executives from Adobe, Amazon, Google, IBM, Meta, Microsoft, OpenAI and TikTok have vowed to adopt preventative measures.

‘Everybody recognises that no one tech company, no one government, no one civil society organization is able to deal with the advent of this technology and its possible nefarious use on their own,’ said Nick Clegg, president of global affairs for Meta after the signing. 

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