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Disney's AI Task Force: Innovation and Cost-Cutting Amid Writer's Strike

August 8, 2023By Trailblaze Team

Topics: Industry News, Artificial Intelligence

Walt Disney Company has launched a task force to explore artificial intelligence (AI) applications across its entertainment empire. We are obviously big believers in creating an AI Task Force, but this innovation comes amid Hollywood writers' and actors' fight against AI's potential exploitation. Here's a detailed look at Disney's AI aspirations and the current labor tensions surrounding this technology. (TL;DR at bottom) 

Disney's AI Task Force: A Closer Look

Earlier this year, Disney created a task force aimed at investigating AI's potential applications. The focus spans from Disney Studios to theme parks, engineering groups, television, and even advertising.

With 11 job openings related to AI, Disney is clearly investing in this technology. For example, they are developing a "next-generation" AI-powered ad system. However, the company has been cautious about public discussions, and a Disney spokesperson declined to comment on this new venture.

Applications and Innovations

Disney's legacy with technological innovation goes back to its earliest days. Its current endeavors range from:

Movies and Television Production: One insider sees AI as a tool to control soaring costs, especially for high-budget films.

Theme Parks: In this area, AI could enhance customer support or create novel interactions, as evidenced by Project Kiwi, a small robot mimicking the character Baby Groot.

Global Research: From Switzerland to the U.S., Disney Research explores AI, machine learning, and visual computing to create "digital humans" and novel experiences for guests.


AI and Hollywood: A Contentious Relationship

AI has become a contentious issue in Hollywood. Writers and actors view it as an existential threat to jobs. The current writers' strike emphasizes AI as a central issue, with both the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) on strike.

Concerns over AI rules have brought the actors to join the writers on strike, demanding higher pay and AI protections. The fear is that without strict regulation, AI could replicate and remix their work, hurting their control and ability to earn a living.

It should be noted that Disney's relationship with technology is not new. It has invested in innovation since its inception, such as debuting “Steamboat Willie,” the first cartoon with a synchronized soundtrack, in 1928. Disney's research into AI has focused on performance capture, creating digital faces, and enhancing the guest experience in theme parks.

Writer's Strike Context: A Battle for Control

The current writer's strike adds urgency to the AI debate. With explicit demands for AI regulations to protect writers and their creations, unions are fighting to preserve their work's integrity. AI's capability to mimic humans has become more prominent and effective, leading to anxiety among entertainers and creative professionals.

Some celebrities have even filed copyright infringement lawsuits against AI companies like OpenAI and Meta. The struggle highlights the labor's standpoint on AI rights and the potential dangers of emerging technologies.

As Disney delves deeper into AI, the tension with labor unions and the broader implications for the entertainment industry continues to grow. This dynamic intersection of technological innovation and human creativity presents a complex landscape that's far from resolution.

The unfolding drama of Disney's AI exploration and the writer's strike represents an industry at a crossroads. As we watch these parallel stories unfold, it's clear that the future of entertainment is poised on the brink of significant change, where things are just heating up. Check out the newest episode of our podcast AI Wave, where we speak to Actor and member of SAG_AFTRA, Brennan Stefanik. Brennan gives his view on the role of AI in the film industry. 


Walt Disney has launched a task force to explore AI applications across the entertainment industry. This move comes amid a writers' strike, where AI has become a central issue, emphasizing the existential threat it poses to creative professions. The blog explores Disney's AI innovations and the complex landscape of technology versus human creativity in Hollywood.

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