Walt Disney launched a taskforce earlier this year to explore artificial intelligence (AI) possibilities, before striking writers and actors, including Bryan Cranston, demanded more AI regulation in the media industry.
The taskforce is reportedly planning to develop AI products and make partnerships with upcoming start-ups.
There are currently 11 job interviews for candidates experienced in AI or machine learning. The openings range widely across the company, from its theme parks to the engineering team, to even its TV marketing looking to create “next-generation” AI-powered ads.
Disney’s move into the AI world follows the success of OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT and DALLE-2. The underlying GPT technology can be used to write content and has already been integrated into technology giants such as Microsoft.
How AI could be utilised in Disney World
Integrating AI into Disney’s theme parks could see original interactive experiences and improved customer service. Reuters sources, including a previous employee of Disney’s theme park branch Imagineer, highlighted these potentials.
Previously, Disney created a Baby Groot interaction that utilised machine-learning. Its the type of AI that gives computers the ability to learn, which is used by ChatGPT.
The Guardians of the Galaxy character could recognise and navigate objects. The sources told Reuters that it would eventually be able to interact with guests.
Reducing Disney’s costs
A Disney employee advocating for AI told Reuters that the media company must lean into the trend or risk falling behind.
The employee said that the growing technology could help reduce the sizable cost of TV and movie productions. Latest releases such as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and The Little Mermaid reportedly had production budgets of approximately $250million.
Using AI in the production could save costs over time, according to the Disney source.
AI tensions between strikers and Disney
Disney’s new AI task force launched before the writers strike that started in May 2023 and the actor’s union SAG-AFTRA strike later in July. The strikes have brought projects to a screeching halt as advocators look for higher pay and regulation over creative use of AI.
Actors including Adam Sandler, Aubrey Plaza and Jeremy Allen joined the picket line.
Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston spoke out against Disney CEO Bob Iger.
He said: “We don’t expect you to understand who we are, but we ask you to hear us. And beyond that, to listen to us when we tell you, we will not be having our jobs taken away and given to robots.”
It came after Iger said the strikers demands were “unreasonable” back in July.
“It will have a very, very damaging affect on the whole business, and unfortunately, there’s huge collateral damage in the industry to people who are supportive services, and I could go on and on. It will affect the economy of different regions, even, because of the sheer size of the business. It’s a shame, it is really a shame,” he said on CNBC’s Squawk Box.
Disney’s previous ventures into AI
The task force is not Disney’s first venture into the world of AI. Imagineering previously revealed an AI-fuelled character in its Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser hotel. The character was a cabin droid called D3-09 that answered questions via a video screen and adapted conversations with guests.
Scott Trowbridge, Imagineering executive, said: “Not only is she a great character to interact with and always available in your cabin, which I think is very cool, behind the scenes, it’s a very cool piece of technology.”