Skip to main content
01 March, 2024

Why Sora is Bringing Both Shock and Awe to an Already AI-Aware Audience

Just when we thought we couldn’t be surprised by AI anymore, OpenAI went ahead and teased the launch of Sora, a text-to-video AI tool. OpenAI’s announcement included a teaser video, which demonstrated a surprisingly high quality of videos generated from simple prompts – ranging from a sentence to a short paragraph. While it’s not available to the general public at the moment, Sora will be capable of turning a text prompt into a video of up to one minute in length. Generative AI has been revolutionising various industries for quite a while, yet the introduction of Sora is particularly startling, eliciting a mix of shock, awe and even fear from the public.

A while before the announcement of Sora’s launch, Gartner had forecast that by 2030, a major blockbuster film with 90% of its content generated by text-to-video AI would be released, marking a significant jump from 0% in 2022. This bold and ambitious prediction now seems like a reality that is right upon us. The world is now divided: there are those who welcome the potential for wider accessibility to video production, reduced costs, shorter production lead times, and enhanced creativity; and there are those who raise cautionary alarms about potential copyright infringement, job loss, and the risk of abuse for criminal purposes. AI creator and former Googler Bilawal Sidhu expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “OpenAI just shattered the ‘Visual’ Turing Test. ‘Is it real or is it fake?’ isn’t just for photos now. Videos too have fallen, and I couldn’t be more excited,” while filmmaker Justine Bateman, who has been highly critical of the technology, posted, “Every nanosecond of this AI garbage is trained on stolen work by real artists. Repulsive.”

The fact that Sora is setting the AI scene ablaze demonstrates the immense potential of this technology, regardless of whether people are ready for it. Sidhu’s remark that OpenAI has shattered the visual Turing Test — first with photos and now with videos — sends chills down people’s spines. Technology has always been developing at an exponential rate, but it seems like we were not quite ready to catch its pace. As the ramifications of AI’s rapid advancement become more apparent, society is grappling with the ethical and practical implications. Since the debut of ChatGPT in November 2022, there has been an 89% global increase in fraudulent business emails in the first half of 2023. Generative AI, when combined with deepfake technology, enables the circulation of very realistic fake news that requires careful scrutiny to be identified.

However, to view Sora solely as a threat to be defeated would be a big mistake. OpenAI is already well aware of the potential risks associated with launching such a powerful tool and has formed a red team to assess critical areas for harm or risks, aiming to mitigate them before it’s in everyone’s hands. Beyond the concerns, the benefits of text-to-video generative AI are manifold. This technology promises to democratise the creation of visual content, enabling independent storytellers and content creators to produce high-quality videos without the need for expensive production resources. Education can be transformed by providing immersive and engaging visual learning materials that can be tailored to the curriculum at scale. For businesses, the ability to swiftly create marketing materials and visual demonstrations can enhance communication with customers and stakeholders. Furthermore, accessibility improvements for those with disabilities could be groundbreaking, as AI-generated videos can include sign language interpretation, enhanced visual cues, and other tailored features that make content more inclusive. In essence, while the risks are not to be underestimated, the potential for positive societal impact is equally compelling.

History demonstrates how the introduction of a tool can revolutionise a society, bringing both unexpected benefits and potential harm. It’s impossible to eliminate all potential threats that new technology may pose, but it is essential that both users and developers constantly make adjustments and implement regulations to ensure that the tool is not exploited for harmful purposes. Generative AI is no different. As we stand on the brink of this new era, it is crucial to foster an environment of responsible use and continuous evaluation. By balancing innovation with foresight, we can steer these advancements towards outcomes that uplift and empower rather than divide and diminish. The journey ahead will surely be complex, but the rewards could reshape our world for the better.