That Time Miyazaki Absolutely Shat On AI

That Time Miyazaki Absolutely Shat On AI

Once, there was a group of student programmers. They wanted to build a robot that could draw the same way humans did. They were full of hope.

And then they showed it to Hayao Miyazaki.

Being one of the greatest directors of animated films to ever walk the planet, Miyazaki has fairly strong views on art, animation and the mechanics of both. So for the Nobuo Kawakami team giving a presentation on artificial intelligence, having Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli in the room was a major deal.

Miyazaki’s first response? “Every morning … not [recently], but I see my friend who has a disability,” the director began.

Oh dear.

You have to feel a little bad for the team giving the presentation: it wasn’t really necessary for Miyazaki to shit on AI quite that hard. But then again, Miyazaki is a bit of a brutal character. And when you consider that a recent NHK special only showed Miyazaki learning how to use a tablet for animation, you have to wonder what kind of reaction Nobuo Kawakami was expecting in the first place.


  • While I thoroughly enjoy the Ghibli films I have seen, I do not like Hayao Miyazaki in the slightest. I find him to be a horrid human being who is far too jaded for his own good.

    • Not defending him. BUT. Hopefully it’s not that hard to imagine someone who believes in wonder and beauty, becoming so jaded at the world he lives in that he becomes part of the problem himself. A lot of artists are very difficult people to be around.

  • Can someone who speaks Japanese confirm this is what was being said? The “anime was a mistake” comment attributed to Miyazaki was a hoax, and the channel that posted this video doesn’t seem official.

    That said, it’s not out of Miyazaki’s character to say that. He’s a fantastic director, but he’s still a grumpy old man who loathes the direction society has taken. His films all have a strong theme of technology either being the cause of the world’s problems or at the very best existing in harmony with the natural world, so his reaction here seems predictable. Utterly tactless and disrespectful, but predictable.

    • An argument could be made that it’s utterly tactless and disrespectful to have a young team of programmers to show Miyazaki a bit of profit-driven A.I. that resembles a human contorting about on a screen (the added comment “it doesn’t feel pain” is the icing on the cake) and then essentially say ‘we want our next project to do what you do’, given that his strong views on technology vs the natural world are very well known by anybody with even a basic knowledge of who he is.

      I’m not saying that I agree with Miyazaki’s views on the world, but clearly the TV show set this up knowing that they would get a good reaction out of him (and the programmers too, no doubt). Rather than seek to criticize Miyazaki or the programmers, perhaps we should direct our attention to the shameless, exploitative and opportunistic way in which shows like these come to be created?

      • I don’t know anything about the circumstances behind why the demonstration happened, whether it was for a TV show or filmed for some other reason. I do know how Miyazaki has responded to various things over the years.

        I don’t know enough to criticise the circumstance, I do know enough to criticise Miyazaki. It’s not a mutually exclusive thing, I could be critical of both sides if it were warranted, if I was familiar enough.

  • this ties in nicely with something I was reading earlier about the concept of genius, and how so many held as the pinnacles of their field are either comically inept or utterly reprehensible in other areas.

    …meanwhile I find it fascinating about the idea of something trying to walk on its head because it doesn’t know to treat it differently from a limb – not just for monster animation but the whole notion of learning when their are critical gaps in an entity’s knowledge, though more in the manner of DARPA robots and less how an equivalent human would just insist that everybody else not walking on their heads makes them totally wrong based on their own anecdotal evidence.

    • It’s not that so many pinnacles of certain fields have different personalities, they’re just the ones that stand out.

  • all you gamers should know of all people….. the things bots and AI do are absolute horror sometimes…. no living being would create that (say a bug in the model stretching or clipping)

    AI is going to take of very soon…. lets try show it nice things

  • That was a pretty shitty introduction to AI for a beginner. Miyazaki seems to be shitting on them for that specific example more so than AI in itself.

    • Agreed. The animations were quite horrid, and not sure how they represent ai. Stop being so sensitive people, miyasaki has a right to his opinion and atleast he explained his opinion in relation to his disabled friend.

  • Um what? Just because the video title says what it says, doesn’t mean that is actually what happened. Hell, even without an understanding of Japanese, a passing grade of English comprehension of the subtitles would have sufficed. Miyazaki’s comments are directed at the resulting animation itself. He is disgusted in the AI producing those results and the team presenting it as if some sort of achievement, not AI as a technology itself. Basically, it seems Miyazaki would never have animation that would resemble those in the presentation in his work regardless whether they were from an AI or human.

    TLDR: Miyakai doesn’t like creepy zombie movements. Wasn’t that hard….

  • “While I was watching your animation it reminded me that I have a physically disabled friend, and in comparison, the creator of this animation doesn’t know true pain. Your animation offends not just me, but LIFE itself.”

    Constructive criticism, Miyazaki style.

  • The guys specifically mention that the human-like AI cannot feel pain when explaining why it uses it’s head for some bizarrely unnatural movement, and that sets the tone for the whole presentation. When was the last time you used the phrase “it doesn’t feel pain” in a context that made somebody feel good about what you were talking about?

    They believe it can be used for zombie games, and they present it to an artist who makes family-friendly movies. It’s not at all surprising to me that Miyazaki found it disgusting, and, while harsh, I don’t think that his feedback is all that unreasonable. Their work is purely profit-driven science, so of course there is no respect for life whatsoever in it.

    They then go on to tell him that they want to create AI that can draw like humans do – again, Miyazaki being an artist. Bizarre and uncomfortably long closeup on his left eye aside (were they hoping to catch a single tear or something?), who wouldn’t be upset when a group of young programmers talk so casually about creating something that can do what you have spent your life mastering? Particularly when the first thing they told you to reassure your concerns about their current project is “it doesn’t feel pain” :-/

    • Their work is purely profit-driven science, so of course there is no respect for life whatsoever in it.

      This is a non sequitur.

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