Expanding human intelligence: How AI can empower the entertainment workforce


August 6, 2019 2:00 pm

Established industries often meet emerging technologies with skepticism and fatalist fear over the potential human toll of innovation. However, what many fail to realize is that even though certain positions are lost to emerging technologies, more are created through the opportunities those technologies generate.

Concern about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the entertainment workforce is no different. By implementing AI technology to handle everything from complex predictions to everyday tasks, creators and entertainment companies will find that employees are better able to focus on higher-level work that can result in greater efficiency, more creativity and stronger business return on investment (ROI).

With AI technology’s shift from the lab to the mainstream in the last decade, workforces from nearly every industry have expressed concern about the future of their positions. There’s a misconception that AI will replace human creativity and ingenuity, turning content creation, distribution and marketing into vanilla, machine-driven tasks.

I’ve spent my own career using technology to connect brands with relevant influencers and audiences through entertainment channels, from social media to gaming to film. People have always been at the heart of that work and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Here are five ways I believe AI may actually help empower the entertainment workforce rather than replace it:

1. Allow for more creativity and strategic thinking

AI’s most immediate impact on the entertainment workforce will likely be a reduction in menial tasks that will allow for greater creativity and strategic thinking. In everything from accounting to editing, AI can help inform — rather than replace — humans.

Tapping AI for mundane, administrative and data-driven tasks gives people more time for higher-level tasks that advance business goals. At BEN, we’ve seen more than 50 percent efficiency gains by applying AI in our day-to-day business.  

2. Provide intelligence on the content that will drive the strongest results

AI has already replaced Netflix’s human-based recommendation algorithm for one simple reason: It is better than humans at predicting what users might want to watch.

AI can sift through billions of data points, allowing for more precise predictions on the number of views a piece of content will receive and other key performance metrics. This type of substantive insight can help content creators understand which scenes, characters or storylines will engage audiences most or which brand partnerships will drive the best return.

3. Create new growth and innovative business opportunities

Every new technology spurs the development of new operational functions and business ideas. Within entertainment, new areas have already emerged that use AI to do everything from helping content owners protect their intellectual property by recognizing the use of audio or video to allowing for personalized advertising campaigns that drive tune-in.

These new applications are only the tip of the iceberg, as entrepreneurs apply AI to solve business challenges and improve upon existing processes in ways we cannot yet imagine.

4. Enable new and unique experiences for audiences

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch was not only a hit on Netflix; it was also a breakthrough for interactive storytelling. From powering “choose your own adventure” experiences to virtual reality and augmented reality, underlying AI technologies can offer unique and engaging experiences that will expand creativity and offer entirely new mediums for creators to explore.

I believe that in the next 10-15 years, AI used by entertainment providers will be able to monitor how people react to their films and change the content based on specific emotions and reactions as they happen. The technology will go beyond what Bandersnatch has proved is possible. Creative content will become more personalized at the viewer level, but there will also be potentially negative elements — like influencer fraud — that companies will need to mitigate and monitor closely.

Generally, there’s a certain level of deceptive activity inherent to each social platform and entertainment channel. Turning to AI can be an effective way for marketers to sift through massive amounts of data and surface fraudulent influencers in a scalable manner.

5. Turn niche interests into viable markets for content

There’s a common misconception that AI will limit the range and diversity of content, narrowing in on the shows or videos most likely to succeed with the masses. In reality, the opposite is true. AI can help new and diverse voices find audiences. It can also transform niche content genres into viable markets and give rise to a new generation of creators who are reflective of society’s diverse interests and tastes.

We have only begun to understand AI’s applications for entertainment and how technologies can empower the industry’s workforce. Those who embrace how AI can help inform and enable a new era of entertainment will be in the best position to thrive as AI evolves further. Popular social platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Twitch have brought content to viewers TV was not paying attention to or had written off completely, such as gamers.

YouTube, in particular, was originally created to serve as an entertainment source for underserved markets. Today, interactivity is becoming an integral and differentiating part of the viewer experience.

One example of this is that influencers can now deliver meticulously storyboarded “play pretend adventures” that feel unscripted, bringing in very high view counts and quickly becoming the future of scripted content for children. The platform allows users to create content that appeals to a younger audience compelled by drama and adventure. AI can dramatically enhance viewing and gaming experiences for growing communities of viewers on YouTube and other streaming channels.

Rather than wondering what AI will do to you, ask what AI can do for you and how you can benefit.

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