Netflix infuriates anime fans after using AI art in new show

A screenshot from Netflix anime series Dog and Boy, a show criticised for its use of AI art

A screenshot from Netflix anime series Dog and Boy, a show criticised for its use of AI art

Entertainment giant Netflix has bragged that it used artificial intelligence to help create its new anime short Dog and Boy. The streaming company’s use of AI art has caused fans of the medium to fight back against the company.

In a tweet from Netflix Japan, the streaming service praised itself for utilising AI art tools. The company claimed that the technology was used in the face of a “labor shortage”, despite thousands-upon-thousands of animators looking for work.

Netflix’s Dog and Boy uses AI generated artwork for its backgrounds. While the show’s characters are all animated traditionally, the scenes they’re placed in have been generated with artificial intelligence tools.

“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!" the company tweeted.

Netflix’s claims of using AI to combat a labour shortage feels disingenuous to say the least. In Japan, thousands of animators are overworked and underpaid, and many are looking for work. In fact, AI art seems like nothing more than a cost-saving measure.

Furthermore, there’s the issue that AI art is based on other artists’ work without their consent. At the time of writing, lawsuits are underway to class AI generated artwork as plagiarism.

Annoying artists even more, Netflix has created AI as the background artist for its new show. In the credits, it cites “AI (+Human)” as the creator of its backgrounds.

“Maybe if y'all paid your artists/animators properly so they they wouldn't just drop dead on their desks from overwork you wouldn't have a ‘labor shortage’,” criticised one Twitter user. “Anyway, as Hayao Miyazaki put it: ‘I strongly feel this is an insult to life itself.’”

Nevertheless, it doesn’t seem like entertainment companies will be stopping the use of AI art tools anytime soon. Whether it’s the use of controversial deepfake technology or AI art, the technology is already a prominent part of many’s workloads.

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