Ashton Kutcher in hot water again for advocating AI use to cut Hollywood costs

By Abby Amoakuh

Published Jun 7, 2024 at 01:10 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Ashton Kutcher is facing backlash on X (formerly Twitter) for boasting about how artificial intelligence (AI) could potentially replace employees in the entertainment industry.

Nope, this isn’t a joke. After the American actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) and the Writers Guild of America went on strike with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in the summer of 2023, it was assumed that we all understood the risk AI posed to the entertainment industry.

Writers were concerned that AI could be used to replace them in the ideation and writing process, whereas actors were worried that studio usage of artificial intelligence could be used to generate performances digitally. In other words, workers in the entertainment industry wanted assurances that the advancement of AI wasn’t going to cost them their jobs.

However, it seems like no one bothered to get Ashton Kutcher up to date on these pressing concerns.

The That ’70s Show actor set up a venture capital firm and launched a $243 million fund in 2023 to invest in artificial intelligence start-ups. On 6 June 2024, Variety reported that the actor spoke about “playing around” with a beta version of OpenAI’s video generation program, Sora, at an event in Los Angeles with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

“You’ll be able to render a whole movie. You’ll just come up with an idea for a movie, then it will write the script, then you’ll input the script into the video generator and it will generate the movie,” Kutcher said. “Instead of watching some movie that somebody else came up with, I can just generate and then watch my own movie.”

Kutcher continued: “What’s going to happen is there is going to be more content than there are eyeballs on the planet to consume it. So any one piece of content is only going to be as valuable as you can get people to consume it. And so, thus the catalyzing ‘water cooler’ version of something being good, the bar is going to have to go way up, because why are you going to watch my movie when you could just watch your own movie?”

While Kutcher’s Adam Smith-esque comments about a free movie market that could foster a greater product selection, price optimisation and innovation for consumers are certainly interesting, they are devoid of the concerns about AI that have been vocalised across his industry.

Kutcher went on to propose what many of his colleagues had feared: for Sora to be used in TV and film productions to help studios cut costs.

The Two And A Half Men actor is not the only celebrity who has addressed Sora so far. In February, filmmaker Tyler Perry told The Hollywood Reporter that after seeing Sora’s capabilities, he felt concerned about how the tech could potentially ruin some people in the industry’s livelihoods.

“There’s got to be some sort of regulations in order to protect us,” he told the magazine. “If not, I just don’t see how we survive.”

Nevertheless, this isn’t the first time that Kutcher has been embroiled in controversy.

What happened between Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson?

US actor Danny Masterson, who starred alongside Ashton Kutcher and his wife Mila Kunis in That ’70s Show, was found guilty in May 2023 of rape against two of his three accusers. The actor was convicted after three women testified that he had sexually assaulted them at his Hollywood home from 2001 to 2003, during the height of his television fame.

He was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison, the maximum penalty allowed.

Kutcher and Masterson had a close friendship, which is why the actor was thrown in the middle of controversy after it was revealed that he and his wife Kunis had sent letters supporting Masterson to the judge following his rape conviction.

Both Kutcher and Kunis apologised later on after Masterson was found guilty of rape. Nevertheless, the case still left a stain on their reputation.

And it looks like Kutcher isn’t quite catching a break from public controversy with this latest debacle.

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