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With the recent proliferation of headlines around generative artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential for dramatic disruption, it’s easy to forget that the idea of machines being able to learn and interact dates back almost 75 years. Historians may disagree about exactly when generative AI became an active area of research, but many see Joseph Weizenbaum's development of the chatbot ELIZA at MIT in the 1960s as one of the first examples of a simulated conversation between a human user and a machine. Contrary to what the headlines may suggest, AI is by no means a new phenomenon.
Today, particularly after the release of consumer-facing technologies such as MidJourney, Dall-E 2, Imagen, Stability AI’s Stable Diffusion and, of course, OpenAI’s ChatGPT, we are on the cusp of the next exciting phase of the technological revolution. From the humble chatbot to the mighty machine learning algorithm that creates new content, AI is transforming how the entertainment business operates. It will soon become a business imperative for media companies.
In this guide, which represents the time and investment of many hundreds of human lawyer hours, we'll explore how the law views the use of AI in the media sector. We’ll address the key developments that have shaped the law concerning AI in the last few years, from the development of new regulations to real-world examples of the technology being legally disruptive in the sector.
We are mindful when describing the impact of AI on media and entertainment, as with many other sectors, of the ethical implications associated with its use – not least, the potential impact on human creative industries, as well as bias and privacy concerns. And as we mentioned in our Guide to the Metaverse, although the entertainment sector is often at the forefront of the development of machine learning, other sectors are close behind.
We hope the information and examples we share throughout this guide will help our readers prepare for the changes that AI will bring to the creative industries and understand how the law will play a part.
How does AI work?
In simple terms, AI systems are designed to process and interpret huge scores of data, recognize repeating patterns within that data, and then produce an output. In a sense, this process is not so different from the ways in which the human brain works, but with computational muscle behind it all. Fundamental to the AI process are the concepts of machine learning and neural networks. Machine learning enables systems to improve performance over time without the requirement for explicit programming. Neural networks are computational models inspired by the structure and functioning of the human brain. They consist of interconnected nodes, or artificial neurons, that process and transmit information. AI systems operate by combining these techniques to provide intelligent solutions in a range of applications.
AI comes in a number of different forms, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, for use in different applications and domains. In the world of media and entertainment, AI is used in countless applications including by far its most controversial application: to generate synthetic content.