Régis Ecosse is a french filmmaker
The development of smart programs (the so-called “artificial intelligence”), whether generative or not, applied to the cultural world, originates massively from the United States. It is useful to understand how these tech players perceive the cultural field. On the other side of the Atlantic, the word “culture” is not used when referring to current artistic and authors’ productions, but rather “entertainment”. The artistic and author fields is seen as a commercial sector, and cultural productions as consumer goods like any others. Their value is measured by how much they bring in. For these businessmen, the interest of AI is to lower production costs and, by simplifying the processes involved in crating works, to multiply the number of “creators” for exponential growth in their activities.
We attach qualities to cultural works that go beyond their mere market value.
Our European tradition is quite different. We attach qualities to cultural works that go beyond their mere market value. We consider them to play a crucial role in shaping our identities, through the influence they have on our imaginations and our intimate relationship with the world.
To take examples from the audiovisual sector, let’s say that in the United States, the model for the cultural industries would be a businessman like Walt Disney, the inventor of the first metaverse, the Disney universe, with the first theme park and a Disney city project that has never been released, while Europe, with its Cannes, Venice and Berlin festivals, would still recognize itself (for how long?) in creators such as Chaplin, Orson Welles, Coppola, Tarentino…
But since American audiovisual productions have largely shifted towards series, it is questionable whether the entertainment industry is still capable of producing such creators, which makes the system frightening. Directors are nothing more than interchangeable technicians, and scriptwriters, grouped into writing pools, must obey specifications drawn up by algorithms that predetermine more and more elements upstream, depending on the budget, the target audience and the results of experiments on the psychology and attention span of viewers.
it is urgent to remember the richness of human qualities such as intelligence, sensitivity, imagination and creativity.
The aim is to ward off the uncertainties of the future by finding the miracle recipe for profitable productions each time. The result is standardization – originality doesn’t fit in with this kind of practice – and paralysation of a world that knows only how to repeat itself. Similar processes are at work in other cultural fields.
That’s why it is urgent to remember the richness of human qualities such as intelligence, sensitivity, imagination and creativity. They enable each generation to reinvent life. Our salvation as human beings depends on it. Yes to new technologies, but yes to regulating their use so that they serve mankind, not the other way round!