SXSW festival crowd responds to AI promo video with chorus of boos

Mike Powers
SXSW festival crowd responds to AI promo video with chorus of boos

You can shove your AI: Companies make no secret of the fact that they are in love with generative AI, especially its ability to streamline processes, speed up tasks, and improve efficiency. It also allows firms to lay off workers they no longer need, of course, which is one of the reasons so many people dislike the technology, as illustrated by an angry crowd at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival.

Audiences at SXSW waiting to see movie premieres including The Fall Guy and Immaculate got an unwelcome surprise when a short promotional video played before the films began.

The sizzle reel, which you can see below, features a number of speakers and panelists from the earlier events at the conference extolling the virtues of AI. There’s plenty of talk about businesses being disrupted and needing to leverage AI’s power. There’s also a lot of “it’s here, whether you like it or not” claims. Sandy Carter, COO of web3 firm Unstoppable Domains, said of AI, “You need to stop resisting and start learning.”

While the tech moguls are certainly passionate about AI and what it can do for others’ businesses, the crowd who viewed the clip at SXSW was far from enthused by it. There’s a cacophony of boos and hisses as soon as AI is mentioned. Carter’s advice to stop resisting AI was met with more disapproving noises. There were other incidents, but the crescendo arrived when Peter Deng, head of ChatGPT and vice president of consumer product at OpenAI, said the toe-curling line, “I believe that AI fundamentally makes us more human.” Yikes.

While it’s true that most people don’t have the same love for AI as the companies pouring millions into the area, and some just downright hate every aspect of it, the reel was facing a tough crowd, admittedly. Variety reports that much of the audience consisted of professionals from within the film industry.

It was only recently that the SAG-AFTRA strike finished. The writers and actors were protesting against several issues, including the use of artificial intelligence. The strike ended after an agreement that ensured actors give consent and are fairly compensated when their AI replications are used, though not everyone was happy with the deal.

Generative AI was one of the three contemporary technologies that, according to a recent report, causes low well-being in the workplace.

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