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Andrew Scott on the dangers of AI, and what it means for actors

Andrew Scott is concerned about the rise of AI, but he also believes nothing can replicate the live theatre experience.

Andrew Scott in Sherlock
Image credit: BBC

The rise of artificial intelligence is hard to ignore. AI is slowly taking over human roles, from writing to acting. Working in Hollywood can be stressful and uncertain for actors who aren’t sure where their next paycheck is coming from. Adding AI only makes things worse.

As we enter into the AI age, the hero we need isn’t Sarah Connor, it’s James Moriarty. To be fair, I’m not talking about Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis, I’m talking about Andrew Scott, the award-winning actor who played him in the 2010 BBC series Sherlock.

Scott spoke about the dangers of AI during a panel at MCM Comic Con, and he didn’t hold back. “There are certain stuff that technology can do in relation to AI and stuff, but there are absolutely certain things that only human beings can do. I suppose that’s why I always go back to the theatre,” Scott said.

“The atmosphere that you can create within a theatre, which is essentially a lot of adult human beings, maybe 600, willingly going into a dark space and asking to be told a story. That is a human need, and I think this dehumanization of the world is a very sinister thing, and these big companies that take such power over our world are absolutely bleeding out these artists, and the people who make us all feel better. Only human beings are able to do that.”

MCM Comic Con was held during the SAG-AFTRA strike, which made things more topical. Part of the reason the actors were striking was because they wanted job protection against AI. “This fight that we’re fighting at the moment is an important one,” Scott said. “I just think it’s very important that we understand this creativity is so uniquely human. If we just scramble everything into a computer and ask the computer to come up with a random thing in order for some big corporation to make more money and have that go unquestioned is really dangerous.”

The SAG-AFTRA strike is over, with the actors winning this battle against AI, but the war continues. AI will continue to be a threat to actors, but as Scott reminds us, it can never recreate the experience of a live theatre performance. With performers like Scott out there, AI doesn’t stand a chance.

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