The problem with created worlds

by | Feb 23, 2024 | The Big Story

AI-generated video, like OpenAI's Sora, both awes us with its brilliance and misleads us about what the world is like. Where have all the People with Disability gone?

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Soon anybody will have the power to create whatever realistic video they want. 

Imagine people walking beside a river in a medieval Japanese village. Describe a scene to a computer, and hey presto – it appears! Well, almost.  

So far the attention’s been on the mistakes (Six fingers! The cat vanished!) or, alternately, how seemingly lifelike it is (Will fake videos swing the next election?). The issue we forget about it that it’s a manufactured reality. What about what we don’t see, what doesn’t appear?

Something significant is brushed out of the computer creations. Reality vanishes – and disability vanishes with it.  

Of course Sora, OpenAI’s video-creation program, can generate generic people with disability. If you want, it’s easy to populate the background with thousands of people in wheelchairs or others using crutches and ethical guardrails can be created (like the one in the illustration at the top, where the AI refuses to predict the gender of the first female President of the US). But this is exactly the problem.

Either everyone has a disability or no one does – there just doesn’t seem to be enough programming power to create a real world populated with real selection of humanity. 

OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman insists AI will eventually rid itself of bias and he’s an American tech billionaire.

What could possibly go wrong?