Generative AIs are a hot-button issue as of late. Creatives fear AIs like ChatGPT and Midjourney will take their jobs. Likewise, others fear such AIs will make it nearly impossible to break into the arts. A battle is brewing between generative AI supporters and the creative community. Now, Netflix is stoking the proverbial flames with the release of a new anime, Dog and Boy, created by AI.
Netflix Japan announced it utilised AI-generated images in its new short film, Dog and Boy. The company claims a labour shortage led to the decision. However, people aren’t falling for this excuse.
“As an experimental effort to help the anime industry, which has a labour shortage, we used image generation technology for the background images of all three-minute video cuts,” says Netflix Japan in a recent tweet.
Artist Call Netflix Out
Artists and fans were quick to call out the streaming service, accusing it of using AI out of greed. Even before generative AIs hit the scene, artists were often underpaid and undervalued.
“Let’s be honest, Netflix. There’s artists all over the world looking for work,” says artist Pete Wood about Dog and Boy. “There’s no labour shortage. There’s a corporate greed surplus.”
“Netflix Japan has moved to AI quoting a “Labour Shortage” when they just laid off hundreds of animators and cut hundreds of animation projects,” tweeted Zakuga Mignon, artist of the TTRPG Wielder of the Secret Flame books.
Mignon goes on to state that the tech is currently unethical, as companies are not asking the artists behind generative AI’s training material for their consent. It is for this exact reason that a group of artists is currently suing several generative AI developers.
Worse still, the human artist who aided the AI in designing the backgrounds for Dog and Boy isn’t even credited by name. Rather the film’s credits simply refer to the artist as ‘+ human’. Not even naming the human artist, while the AI is only capable of creating art due to a library of human-made art, seems a cruel twist of fate.
“The anime world should be up in arms after being reduced a token ‘+ human’ in credits. This is a slap in the face [for the] lifetime’s worth of blood, sweat & tears anime artists spend honing their craft,” tweeted one individual.
The Story of Dog and Boy
Dog and Boy is roughly 3 minutes long and available on YouTube. The short film shows a young boy finding and caring for a robotic dog. However, when war comes to the town, the boy, now grown, goes off to war. Soon the robotic dog is left alone when the city is bombed. The story of a boy and his dog is an age-old one. But the new anime leaves one wondering if humans will still be telling such tales in the future or if AI will completely take over such tasks.