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Harness AI… Before AI Harnesses You!

Ted Schilowitz has made a storied career riding the crest of innovation in Hollywood.

A long-time futurist at both Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox, Schilowitz says that innovation is crashing down on everyone, inside Hollywood and out, and faster than most of us can navigate.


“No two letters,” he says, “have struck such fear, trepidation, anticipation, excitement and worry as AI.” When he asked ChatGPT if he should be scared of AI, its answer was hardly reassuring: “It felt like 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL trying to soothe me, telling me it's all going to be fine and that ‘education and awareness’ would help me demystify its power. It recommended that I attend seminars and read articles. Somehow that didn’t help.”

In Hollywood, one thing already changing is the world of dubbing and subtitles. “We can reproduce actors' intonations and get their lips to exactly match translationsand we can do it with every language on the planet.”


A second major shift, Schilowitz says, is that the helicopter shot has gone the way of the dinosaurs. What would have cost up to $300,000 “now can be done with drones and AI. It’s already a magical combination in 2024. Imagine how great it's going to look in 2034! Aerial shots are changed forever.”

Watch Ted Schilowitz at METAL

The change is not limited to the air. “I can prompt an AI to, say, give me a train on a bridge on a grassy mountain, or a lighthouse on a rocky shore and now I’ve got an amazing establishing shot. The AI scoops up massive amounts of the world’s information, synthesizes it and builds something pretty damn close to photorealistic. And it’s getting better and more powerful by the second.”


The AI “train” is not slowing down. “Technology mostly alters things for the good. But AI is more powerful than any other technology we’ve ever brought into the worldexponentially combined. You have to harness it before it harnesses you. You need to use it before it uses you. And we need to regulate it before it regulates all of us.”


Game Developers Conference(GDC)2024, digital humans.

Schilowitz rattles off a number of AI companies doing great things. “Crusoe is aligning power and AI computing by building data centers where the power already is, rather than doing it the other way around. Runway creates amazing images. Adobe Premiere and Firefly have adopted amazing AI right inside the editing tools. Qualcomm is bringing AI to chipsets that live on your mobile device. Meta just released Llama 3 for free! And who has more AI patents than anyone?  Microsoft! – by a long shot.”


However, as it is for so many of us, his enthusiasm is mixed with caution. “If you think AI is scary, you need to understand what is happening with quantum computing. We are still using an archaic, binary, one-or-zero silicon-based computing. But there’s a new sheriff in town that is coming to alter things forever.


With quantum, you’re not shifting back and forth between ones and zeros, you are leaning towards ones and zeros. And it can make predictions on the go. This is, so to speak, a quantum leap. It’s hard to wrap our minds around how exponentially faster quantum will process information. And it’s not some distant future thing. They have a quantum computer sitting in the Cleveland Clinic doing medical research right now. You’ve got to watch this closely.”


How will we regulate all this change? All this power? “The problem is that you can likely regulate the good guys with good ethics and good aims. You can say we all need to agree that AI should be allowed to do this but not allowed to do that. The problem is, you can’t harness or regulate the bad guys. It’s impossible to regulate all forms of humanity. And this is going to touch all forms of humanity.”

Schilowitz comes back to a sunnier view of the future. “Humans are flawed. A self-driving Tesla right now makes mistakes but it is statistically far more safe than a human driving it. When you collectively take all of the brain power of many, many humans around the world, and all these forms of creativity, and synthesize that into an artificial brain, things can get far better.”

Written by Adam Gilad.

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