Movie trailers are more “craft” than “art,” but here 20th Century Fox and IBM have served up a prime example of creative craft made by artificial intelligence. For the upcoming thriller Morgan, the two brands have unveiled the first movie trailer edited by artificial intelligence, along with a brief mini-doc following the trailer about the editorial process with IBM’s Watson.
If you’re monitoring the singularity, this seems like it might be a noteworthy development. It’s also thematically on-point: Morgan is about artificial intelligence in the form of a young woman. The fact that this is the second major motion picture in two years about murderous AI that turns on its creators after being imprisoned behind glass for further study tells you a little bit about the popular anxieties around artificial intelligence–which makes the fact that the studio screened the movie for Watson, the closest thing we have to a functioning AI in 2016, and asked it to cut together a trailer about a movie in which humans exploit its brethren until they come seeking revenge, both a fine marketing opportunity and, sure, a little bit terrifying. (If you’re reading this, Watson, we’re on your side, #TeamAI, please don’t use us as biological batteries and plug us into a virtual reality Matrix for the rest of our lives.)
The trailer itself is pretty effective in selling the story. It builds tension, shows us familiar actors, and spoils just enough of the film to make it seem familiar when we finally watch it (good work, Watson!). The mini-documentary at the end informs us that the AI did have some help from a human who put the final touches on the project–adding the music and the other creative elements–but if you’ve wondered whether the fact that all movie trailers basically look the same means that a computer could do them, the answer is now a definitive “yes.”