An AI Walt Disney is being wheeled out to celebrate 100 years of the entertainment company. Dead for 57 years, the Mickey Mouse co-creator is coming back with the power of artificial intelligence.
Designed for the company’s new event, Disney 100: The Exhibition, the AI celebrity is designed to greet fans during the celebration. Housed at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, the realistic AI-powered projection will not be part of the main show.
To highlight the impressive, but unnerving, AI recreation, Disney released a short video of the technology on social media. Shared on the Disney23 Twitter account, an animation of Mickey Mouse in his Fantasia outfit introduces the AI Walt Disney, making him appear with a magic spell.
“There’s a lot of satisfaction in developing ideas into reality. When we consider a new project, we really study it,” the AI Walt Disney says. “Not just the surface idea, but everything about it. And when we go into that project, we believe in it all the way. We have confidence in our ability to do it right and we work hard to do the best possible job.”
“There’s really no secret to our approach,” it continues. “We keep moving forward, open up new doors, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. We’re always exploring and experimenting,” he concludes with a wink and a snap, disappearing back into nothingness.
The AI Walt Disney projection is far from perfect. Not only have fans noted that the recreation’s mannerisms are unlike footage of the original Walt Disney, but also the clearness of the footage but low-quality nature of the audio generation creates a weird mismatch between cutting-edge HD visuals and phonogram-esque sound.
The AI recreation was made by training AI on archival footage of the Disney creator. Footage from the 1960s was upscaled to train an AI to create a lifelike clone of the deceased celebrity. However, the AI couldn’t create audio tracks as clean as its video; current-gen audio upscales just isn’t there yet.
Furthermore, many are simply unnerved by the fact that Disney is wheeling out its dead creator for the 100th anniversary. One commenter responsed: “Damn, Disney, aren’t you tired of doing remakes?” while posting an image of Weekend at Bernie’s.
“I genuinely cannot put into words how terrible this is,” said another. “Aw sweet, Mouse made horrors beyond my comprehension,” responded one user.
Some commenters claimed that the AI recreation is no different than animatronics at theme parks. However, the vast majority disagree, and believe Disney’s likeness being twisted beyond the grave for infinite marketing is a tad too dystopian, even for the House of Mouse.