While the debate around generative AI rages on, with artists mostly accusing companies of stealing their work to create derivative drivel, Netflix positioned itself as the receiver of most hate this week.
The company used “AI-assisted” background art in a short anime film, which wouldn’t have been newsworthy in and of itself, but it did blame a “labor shortage” for the fact that they relied on AI to create the film.
Directed by Ryotaro Makihara, the Dog and Boy film debuted on Netflix this week, presenting the story of a boy and his dog in a post-apocalyptic setting.
You see, the Dog and Boy film on Netflix Japan has in the credits a mention of “AI (+Human), which points to the fact that the backgrounds were generated by AI.
However, on Twitter, Netflix kinda put their foot in their mouths by blaming a lack of employees for using AI.
“As an experimental effort to help the anime industry, which has a labor shortage, we used image generation technology for the background images of all three-minute video cuts!”
Thousands of artists and anime fans were enraged by the tweet, replying with a quote from the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, the creator of Studio Ghibli animations, who said that AI art is “an insult to life itself”.
Others pointed out that there is no shortage of animators looking for work, in a field that has hundreds of candidates and aspiring artists competing for a job.
One UK artist, Reece Alex Burton, pinpointed the problem with how Netflix used AI-generated art, echoing many’s concerns:
“Image generation technology? Just say you stole artists work through an AI gen and then claimed a labour shortage even though people like me and my brother who have degrees can’t get jobs because there’s 500 other graduates also trying to get an interview per application. Liars”
Another responder chimed in to say “The anime world, should be up in arms after being reduced a token “+ human” in credits. This is a slap in face of lifetime’s worth of blood, sweat & tears anime artists spend honing their craft”.
You can watch the full video here but, since YouTube removed the dislike button, there’s no way of knowing exactly how much disapproval Netflix Japan received on the video.
On Twitter though, the thread is proving to be highly divisive, with artists calling for a ban on generative AI and others saying AI could be just another tool in the artists’ arsenal, one that could open the field to even more creators.