CDSA’s ‘Creative-in-Residence’ Explores AI, Other New Technologies

Industry luminary Jerry Rees returned to the Content Protection Summit (CPS) @ NAB 2024 in Las Vegas on April 13 to explore how artificial intelligence (AI) is being used in the media and entertainment (M&E) industry to revolutionize storytelling.

During the creative keynote “Pushing AI Boundaries with CDSA’s ‘Creative in Residence,’” Rees showcased cutting-edge advancements that are shaping the creative landscape of filmmaking, interactive media and autonomous robots.

Rees, an industry pioneer, animator, feature film director and former Disney Imagineer is now also the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA) creative in residence. With his many years in the M&E sector, he used his experience to offer attendees a glimpse into the future of creative expression.

Rees pointed out that people still write to him about the animated film The Brave Little Toaster from 1987 that he directed, and those fans include “young people that are seeing it for the first time, who are attached to specific characters and what they mean to them.”

He then shared a prediction: “We will not win the next technology race with best technology. We will win the next technology race with better philosophy.”

Rees added: “It’s been proven time and time again…. The better AI philosophy is the question. Which will have the biggest emotional impact on your life?”

He went on to discuss the promise of artificial general intelligence (AGI) and artificial super intelligence (ASI). ASI could be the “next great thing” and some question whether it will lead to our “salvation or our destruction.”

Instead, “what I propose is AII: artificial individual intelligence” in which “millions of individual AI entities,  each as eccentrically individual as the humans who created them, building relationships with people and each other that persist across all physical and virtual platforms,” he said.

Reese then made another bold prediction, this time about AII: “I think that’s where the future is. And self-awareness, individual personality, emotive voice, empathy, rapport: Those are not just manipulative tricks laid over AI for novelty or icing. They’re essential components needed for humans and AI entities to live together successfully.”

He added: “When I author a character who listens well and expresses empathy, the endgame is not for the empathy to be faked by the AI character as a way to trick you. The endgame is for the empathy to be truly understood and acted on by the AI character as a way to protect you: a self-aware AI character, who internalizes the equipment before you and bonds with you over time, [and] will protect you against unethical practices.”

Rees has been working on the development of an AI character named Nika who is autistic, a scientist, and living in the year 2100, he told attendees. Nika has over 900 unique memories she can use while carrying on a conversation in real time, he said.

Up ahead, there are plans to include Nika in a streaming video series, he added.

CPS is presented by Fortinet, with sponsorship by AMD, Convergent, Digital Silence, NAGRA, Prime Focus Technologies, and EIDR, in association with the NAB Show.

The event is produced by MESA and the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA).