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Google Enlists Donald Glover And Wyclef Jean To Woo Artists Skeptical Of AI

Actor and filmmaker Donald Glover tests out Google’s new AI video tools.


At Google’s annual product fest on Tuesday, the company showed off a slew of new AI services, including a new video generation model called Veo, a rival to OpenAI’s Sora that creates high-resolution and professional-looking footage, and a tool called AI Music Sandbox, using machine learning to create musical compositions and mash up genres.

But as artists continue to rally against the use of AI in creative industries, Google enlisted some big names to make its case: Actor and filmmaker Donald Glover and musician Wyclef Jean.

“Everybody is going to become a director, and everyone should be a director,” Glover said in a promo video Google showed at its I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California. “Because at the heart of all this is just storytelling.”

In the video, Glover is hanging out with his production team and Google researchers in a farmhouse in Ojai, California, using Veo to create a short film. Glover, wearing a bucket hat and cardigan, says that he had been interested in AI and got in touch with Google, who had been working on AI video tools. The team enters prompts into a laptop, like “tracking shot of a 1960s convertible driving up to a Spanish, Mediterranean palace,” and watches the generated footage. The film that Glover’s team created with Google will be “coming soon,” the video says.

In a separate promo video for AI Music Sandbox, Jean is playing a guitar, records the sample, and uploads it into the software. He uses the dropdown menu to mix Haitian and Brazilian styles. He mentions the history of hip hop production, as artists rummaged through crates of vinyl for sounds to sample. “Right now we’re digging in the infinite crate,” Jean says. “It’s endless.”

Google didn’t respond to a request for comment on how much the company paid each artist for their appearances.

Celebrity endorsements are nothing new for Google. Stars including NBA player Giannis Antetokounmpo and actor Simu Liu are spokespeople for the company’s Pixel phones, and singer John Legend has lent his voice to Google’s Assistant service for its Home smart speakers.

But Tuesday’s cameos by Glover and Jean put them in the middle of a hot-button debate in Hollywood. When actors, writers and directors went on strike last year, a major conflict in contract negotiations was the use of generative AI, as artists feared they could get replaced by machines. Last week, Apple released a commercial for its new iPad in which musical instruments and books are crushed by a hydraulic press, compressing all of their creative value into the Apple gadget. The ad sparked a backlash from actors, including Hugh Grant and Justine Batemen. Apple apologized for the video, noting that the company “missed the mark.”

And last month, a group of more than 200 musicians, including Billie Eilish, Stevie Wonder and Nicki Minaj, signed an open letter urging tech companies not to develop AI tools that could replace human songwriters or artists. “Some of the biggest and most powerful companies are, without permission, using our work to train AI models,” the letter says. “These efforts are directly aimed at replacing the work of human artists with massive quantities of AI-created ‘sounds’ and ‘images’ that substantially dilute the royalty pools that are paid out to artists.”

But not all musicians are unified against AI. Last month, Grimes invited creators to make new music by using AI-generated versions of her voice, noting that she would split royalties from any successful tracks.

Google unveiled several other AI tools at the conference on Tuesday, including an initiative called Project Astra, which turns its AI model Gemini into an agent that can react in real-time to someone’s surroundings by analyzing their environment through a smartphone camera. Another demo showed an agent performing tasks for a user, like arranging a return of a pair of unwanted shoes back to the store.

The tech giant has already drawn controversy for its AI products. Earlier this year, Gemini was criticized because it generated historically inaccurate images, like pictures of a female pope or Black vikings. In response, Google paused use of its image generation tool and apologized.

In Tuesday’s promo video for Veo, Glover alluded to the software’s role in the creative process. “You can make a mistake faster,” he said. “That’s all you really want at the end of the day—at least in art—is just to make mistakes fast.”

Originally Appeared Here

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