Handcrafted media is coming

Handcrafted media is coming
Photo by Jakob Owens / Unsplash

I'm sitting at an airport, sipping a cappuccino, waiting for my flight to board. I'm mostly in my head, thinking about various bits and bobs, house renovation, project at work, stuff like that, when my eyes rest on two huge TVs playing the same three ads back to back, each lasting roughly 10 seconds.

One is for a Samsung phone. The other is for a Samsung TV. The third is for an electric car made by Opel.

The first two though, is what caught my interest (the car too, but for reasons other than what got me typing these words).

You see, both the phone and the TV are advertised with "Galaxy AI", and "Artificial Intelligence", respectively.

And that got me thinking.

We're about to hit the era where "Handcrafted Media" is a thing. Not in the literal sense, of course, because you can't make any sort of media without automated tools:

A handicraft, sometimes more precisely expressed as artisanal handicraft or handmade, is any of a wide variety of types of work where useful and decorative objects are made completely by one's hand or by using only simple, non-automated related tools like scissors, carving implements, or hooks.


Rather handcrafted in the sense that without AI. Both in the sense that made without AI and consumed without AI.

Now, I’m not an expert at making movies, or tv shows. I know that a lot of people are involved, and they use a lot of tools, both physical and digital. I’m sure that those tools are already being enhanced with “the power of AI”, whatever that means.

What I’m somewhat of an expert at is consuming media (aren’t we all).

TVs already do a lot to modify images for "the viewer's pleasure", like frame interpolation, or colour correction, or even audio tuning.

As "AI" is getting its foothold in TVs as well, I'm sure that these will go up to 11. With tools like OpenAI Sora, you can already generate life-like videos. Sure, they don't hold up to scrutiny, but we miss a lot of stuff already when watching movies anyway. Not to mention that Sora came out roughly 14 months after ChatGPT, so I'm sure that in the coming years it will get much better.

And that worries me.

Imagine this: you're watching a movie on Netflix, and get an ad break. It's just the thing that you were looking at on Amazon a day before. Because soon it will be possible to have personalized ads for every human being on the planet.

Or worse - the ad gets embedded into the movie! Just For You! There's already a much simpler version of this for football, where the boards next to the fields can have different ads depending on the channel and the country that is broadcasting the match.

Now take that, and insert your browser history.

You’re watching The Fast and the Furius 17,5, and on the billboard in one of the scenes you see an ad for toothpaste, in your own language, for a store chain that has a store near you.

But then you rewatch it and it’s government propaganda.

On one hand, this is worrying. But on the other, this is extremely worrying. Unless you're in advertisement, in which case, yay!

I believe people will fight this, but corporations gonna corporate, and money will most probably win at the end of the day.

Still, concessions will probably be made. “Handcrafted” movies will be made. Features that allow users to opt out of personalised ad breaks and/or “AI enhancements”. I think it’s likely that movies themselves will have metadata to instruct your device whether certain modifications are “preferred to be disabled”.

I imagine a future that is terrible, and hope that I’m wrong.