AI breakthrough Sora highlights technological promise, China and U.S. in close race across diverse sectors

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    18th February 2024 – (Beijing) As the Spring Festival in China concluded, OpenAI’s latest innovation, Sora, a text-to-video AI generator, has captivated the world with its potential to redefine the creative landscape. Its release, coinciding with the festivities, has spurred a buzz across the globe, with its capabilities inspiring awe and raising questions about the future of content creation.

    Sora stands out for its ability to craft up-to-one-minute-long videos that are strikingly realistic. The tool boasts of assembling complex scenes replete with multiple characters, intricate movements, and thematic backgrounds that adhere to user prompts while maintaining a cognizance of physical-world dynamics.

    The swift progress of Sora has caught many industry insiders off-guard, with some heralding it as the dawn of a new industrial epoch. Nonetheless, this breakthrough has also stoked fears of a potential erosion of reality and the threat it poses to Hollywood’s cinematic dominance.

    Ma Heliang, an influential figure within China’s film sector, expressed his astonishment at Sora’s capabilities. “The shock resonates throughout the film industry. We recognise AI’s prospective impact on filmmaking,” Ma stated. He acknowledged that while certain roles, such as those involved in crafting movie previews, might be affected, the technology is yet to reach a stage where it can supplant the entire movie-making process. “The emotional bond and the collective experience films provide cannot be replicated by AI-generated clips,” he added.

    Ma also emphasized the direction AI is heading in assisting human creativity, allowing artists to transcend industrial limitations and harness AI tools to express their visions more liberally.

    Zhou Hongyi, a key player in China’s tech sphere, suggested that while Sora is poised to disrupt advertising, trailers, and the short-video domain, it may not displace platforms like TikTok immediately but rather serve as a creative adjunct.

    As OpenAI works on training AI models to navigate real-world interactions, observers point out that Sora exemplifies AI’s ability to simulate the physical world with general-purpose models. The implications of such an advancement are profound, not just for film and television, but for all content creation.

    Zhou projected a rapid advancement toward artificial general intelligence (AGI), suggesting that AI’s comprehensive understanding of the world through visual mediums could be imminent.

    The emergence of Sora has underlined the widening technological rift between China and the U.S., with China trailing in the development of advanced AI models. Nonetheless, Liu Wei, a prominent AI researcher, mentioned that while the U.S. maintains an edge in software and hardware, China excels in AI application and data collection. “In the realm of human-machine collaboration, both nations are on par, which fosters a mutual willingness for dialogue,” Liu asserted.

    Despite the enthusiasm, Sora is currently restricted to cybersecurity professionals tasked with assessing its risks. Liu cautions that while the rapid progression of such technology challenges traditional ethics and regulations, it is crucial to find a balance that encourages innovation without compromising public interest.