Entertainment meets AI… a view into tomorrow’s future

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As a Silicon Valley tech and marketing veteran and podcaster, I’ve attended hundreds of conferences and shows throughout my career, which is why my recent attendance at the AI and Showbiz event stands out so much.  It was held in Los Angeles at the clean-tech incubator LACI. In addition to being housed in an extremely interesting space (the LACI is home to start-ups creating innovative green technologies), the content and attendees were beyond fascinating.

We are rapidly moving into an AIfirst world… what does this mean? It means that artificial or what many like to call augmented intelligence is seeping into every facet of our lives. Think about the coming of autonomous vehicles, predictive technologies, voice activated interfaces that can can understand human emotion via voice or through facial recognition. The future is here and everything is going to change. In fact, it already is changing.

The event itself presented a variety of entertainment, AI and tech trailblazers as Molly Lavik, event organizer referred to the speakers and attendees. It examined the intersections of AI with the entertainment business and left us on a positive yet pensive note.

Early in the day we heard from Alex Lightman whose goal in life is “to make the world smarter”. In addition to being an accomplished entrepreneur, Chairman of Social House and author of Augmented a book about the post AI reality we are in the midst of experiencing. Although today, we typically see AI as a new emerging tech, it has actually been around for almost 60 years and Alex himself started working on AI technologies 30 years ago, which makes him a pioneer in the space. In those days, he was working with the military and deriving inspiration from science fiction. In fact, many of us see AI through the lens of science fiction and its story lines, most of which ultimately conclude that humans are not useful or that we’re in the matrix. And this is why he believes it’s important for positive stories about AI to become more mainstream, this is where the entertainment industry comes in.

Later, we were able to see some AI in action on the big screen with Jeff Kleiser of Synthespian Studios a Hollywood visual effects veteran that has done everything from developing a Spiderman ride at Universal Studios to animating Rebecca Romijn’s transition into Mystique on the XMen and more recently working with the biggest Indian film star Shah Rukh Khan, in a science fiction movie called Ra One. He shared the animation components used to create and deconstruct the character during life and death.

Each of the cubes used in the effect actually have AI built into their behavior as they come together or fall away. Check it out, very cool visuals.

Michael Terpin led an interesting discussion on the impact of blockchain on the entertainment business. Blockchain is a digital distributed transaction ledger where transactions are recorded chronologically and publicly which means information can never be erased; ideally a blockchain contains an accurate and verifiable record of every transaction ever made.

Michael has been involved with bitcoin and blockchain since early 2013, co-founding the first angel group for cryptocurrency investments (BitAngels), holding the first conference for bitcoin investors (CoinAgenda), and co-founding the bitcoin syndicate.

Michael laid out several use cases for how the entertainment industry should and will be leveraging blockchain. The many use cases included securing intellectual property and digital creative works, smart contracts, enforcement of sophisticated usage rights and payment collection.

We also got to meet Spurlock, developed by Brain2Bot which is a highly interactive sentient robot that responds to a variety of sensations, like sound, touch, and food.


Just like a real animal, he even has a digestive tract! He was built with custom AI that leverages his creator, Gunnar Newquist’s expertise in molecular neuroscience to create a more life-like intelligence. He mimics the most basic processes that happen in the brain, including learning and internal “feelings” like love and hunger, down to a molecular level. This approach is meant to make robots not only smarter but also more personable.

We saw a screenplay and musical score created by completely by computers, and also were able to experience an amazing immersive dome experience that feels like a VR experience but enables you to experience it socially with others. The company is called Vortex Immersion and it features visual and sound experiences that take place inside of a dome that create a fully immersive 360 degree experience, it was super cool! 

Overall, the content and the company were extremely stimulating and inspiring. Moderator and AI guru, Steve Ardire also did an awesome job of assimilating speaker content into his commentary and navigating the conversations. 

Performance by IAMEVE – multidisciplinary artist incorporating visual story telling with music.

My main takeaway was that like it or not, AI is coming and in a big way that will change most of what we know today. Jobs will be eliminated because computers will just be able to do them better and more efficiently than humans. So rather than fight the coming advances of technology, we need to get ahead of it by understanding the ways it can enhance what we do today, inspire new creations and facilitate more meaningful relationships in the real world. That’s what these trailblazers are up to, so taking a page from their book, let’s think about how as Nova Spivack, technology futurist, serial entrepreneur, angel investor put it “AI will free human creativity rather than replace it.”