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Moral foundation of mankind should be strong to meet the technological challenges: A.R. Rahman

IFFI53 In-Conversation Session explores ‘Future of Content’



#IFFIWood, 27 November 2022

Can AI ever replace AR (A.R Rahman)?

Addressing an In Conversation session at the ongoing 53rd edition of IFFI, legendary music composer A.R Rahman answered the existential question of the new digital age, albeit in a light vein, by saying that “I am AI”. Yes, there would be no difference between AR and AI as both evolve and grow with time, says Rahman. The living legend, whose music continues to make many an Indian as well as foreigners skip a beat, was in Goa to address festival delegates. This time, not so much regarding his soul-stirring music, as regarding the evolution of technology, drawing upon his new avatar as a producer of films which employ technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and others, in the quest to redefine and reinvent cinematic experiences for the technologically mediated era of tomorrow.

Addressing an In-Conversation session on ‘Future of Content’ at the 53rd edition of International Film Festival of India in Goa today, Rahman noted that in the metaverse, people could be fully functional without exposing themselves, without exposing their identity.

Responding to a query on conflict between technology and human values, he said the moral foundation of mankind should be strong to meet the technological challenges.

Speaking about musical inspiration, he said that our mind is connected to the universal consciousness and we draw inspiration from the supreme to create something.

His reflections threw light on the process which leads to the high standards which he continually upholds. “Music is an emotion unmatched. People are very sensible. One wrong sound, image or frame can spoil their sensibility and I don’t like and allow that in my creation.”

His musical journey is similar to the path of AI, evolving like it, says Rahman. “I started with south Indian, folk and tribal music and then exposed to African and Hollywood music. I grew up and evolved gradually as a composer, like AI grows with technological advancement.”

Speaking about the concept of metaverse, noted innovator and pioneer in AI, VR & Robotics, Pranav Mistry said: “There is no clear definition of metaverse. It is a rebranding which denotes a system which delivers the next wave of immersive experiences; it is not about 3D kind of game environment, it is more than 3D avatars walking around”. “Asia is a big part of the multi-billion dollar industry”, he added.

Mistry said that in case of multiverse, the virtual part is already being imagined and AI can be the next movie-maker. “The Next Academy Award might be won by AI or an algorithm rather than a person.” A machine might be able to do something that we have not done before, but no machine can imbibe the questioning and curiosity of the human being, he asserted.

Delving deep into the topic, Pranav said that people will design their own stories and audience will participate in the movie and become stakeholders in solving problems of the world. “The urge to create is what intuition is all about, once you are in that zone, unless you finish it, you cannot sleep.”

Addressing the session, internationally acclaimed filmmaker Shekhar Kapur said his fear is not about AI replacing him, but whether he could adapt to the new technology. “AI can take over the story-telling, but can I teach AI to hope, fear and portray human emotion?”

Interacting with film enthusiasts, Ronald Menzel, Co-founder of Dreamspace Immersive said the most powerful machine is our brain and technology is still far away from what humans can do. “Technology augments reality, doesn’t replace it.”

Technology can be a friend and a partner in our journey to create content for the next generation. It can change the world drastically.  At the same time it can be a monster, if not handled properly. There should always be a boundary and control while applying technology in generating creative content for the masses. This is what the speakers opined while concluding the session.

The Masterclasses and In-Conversation sessions at IFFI 53 are being jointly organized by Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI), NFDC, Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and ESG. A total of 23 sessions comprising masterclasses and in-conversations are being conducted this year to encourage the students and enthusiasts of cinema in every aspect of filmmaking.

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