Hip-Hop. What is Sora? Thoughts. Harry & Rugby.

Usher is Pure Talent. Text-To-Video Mid-February Already. Only 18 Weeks?

Quote of the Week: “I think it’s important for us to believe in one another’s capabilities. If I didn’t have someone to believe in me, I wouldn’t be the individual I am today. Neither would I strive for new territory or new direction or to believe in myself.” – Usher

  • Last Sunday’s Super Bowl inspired me. Yes, the second half and overtime were great to watch, but what I am referring to is the halftime show. The twenty-minute halftime featured an artist who has sold 150 million records worldwide and earned 8 Grammy Awards, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He has influenced contemporary R&B, pop, and hip-hop music as well as any other artist, and along with many business ventures, he founded a non-profit charity that aims to provide young people with a new look on life through education and real-world experiences.

I am referring to Usher, who at last Sunday’s halftime showed the world his wealth of talent including his profound mastery of soul, R&B, and hip-hop. Recognized by Billboard as number six on the “Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years,” Usher continues to exemplify what I always refer to as ‘pure talent.’

The father of hip hop was Clive Campbell, a.k.a. DJ Kool Herc. He was one of the first DJs to isolate the instrumental portion of a record, emphasizing the drumbeat, or the “break.” Using two turntables and two copies of the same record, DJ Kool Herc was able to elongate the break or what DJs back then called “breakbeat.” This breakbeat music, using funky drum solos, formed the basis of hip-hop music, and the rest his history. In November of last year, Clive Campbell was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Pure talent.

The Story Behind the Birth of Hip-Hop.

  • Video generators, using some semblance of artificial intelligence (AI), have been around for a few years. Two years ago, Meta released a video generator and just a month ago Google released a text-to-video (T2V) model that was very impressive. Now OpenAI, the so-called research organization who creates AI “to benefit all humanity,” has created a T2V generator that can create detailed and realistic videos from text prompts.

OpenAI’s model, called Sora, “is able to generate complex scenes with multiple characters, specific types of motion, and accurate details of the subject and background,” OpenAI said. “The model understands not only what the user has asked for in the prompt, but also how those things exist in the physical world.” Why are alarms going off with this type of AI technology? Sora cannot only create video from text prompts, it can create video from still images or existing video, to extend the content or fill in ‘missing’ frames. This means it can alter old/historical footage, create cheap content, and provide an uncomfortable level of propaganda and disinformation (false video = false news). Here is a quote from one technology scientist: “Technology like Sora holds the potential to not just disrupt industries like art and cinema, but completely obliterate them. No longer will production companies need to rely on actors, camera operators, gaffers, and the hundreds of other people who create the movies and TV shows we love. Instead, they can just type a few words into a prompt and get a full video.

Yes, I know this scenario seems far-fetched, but if you are a producer or studio executive, are you not always looking for less expensive ways to make your movie? Displacing actors, camera operators, gaffers, and hundreds of other support people are eye-opening enough, but how will nation states, terrorist organizations, and political campaigns weaponize these types of AI models to create havoc, with the dangers and risks never-ending.

I do really enjoy new technology, but similar to previous posts, Congress and worldwide organizations better start wrapping some standards around all of AI’s far-reaching models. This video provides a great explanation and examples of what the Sora tool is capable of – alarming or not.

Technology at its Finest, or at its Worst?

Things I Think – February 18, 2024

  • Prince Harry hinting that he is considering becoming a U.S. citizen. Oh, how the Royals must be eye-rolling.
  • Consumer spending habits are forgoing discretionary purchases, some of them being expensive sneakers and athletic wear. Nike announced 2% of its workforce, or 1,700 employees, will get caught up in a reduction in force. I have the same question I have asked with other big corporate layoffs: What were those 1,700 employees doing where Nike can just lay them off?
  • Annoyance alert. Resorts are trying to figure out the ongoing dilemma of their guests, early every morning, placing towels on pool and beach chairs so that sometime during the day a chair is available for them. Such despair for the other guests who come to the pool and beach only to find out there are no available chairs. Drama.
  • In less than three seconds, what is Presidents’ Day officially called? Three seconds are up.
  • The Taylor Swift effect. The NFL estimates that five million more female viewers watched last Sunday’s Super Bowl. It is all about the Taylor Swift Chiefs. On a serious note, TS donated $100,000 to a victim’s family from last week’s shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl parade. Talented and a good human.
  • Last Thursday, SpaceX launched twenty-two more of its Starlink internet satellites, their third mission in less than 24 hours. This type of launch activity, even three years ago, seemed implausible.
  • Professional golf is definitely at the crossroads, for more reasons than just the PGA and LIV tours. Pay for play, team concepts, and more are coming fast.
  • This is exactly how I feel about one of my least favorite topics:

  • Speaking of Prince Harry. It is not often that the National Football League (NFL) has the Duke of Sussex present an award. There is no doubt that Prince Harry took full advantage of his time on stage to take a dig at American football, especially as compared to rugby. At the forty second mark of this video, Prince Harry gets very funny.
Nicely done, Prince Harry!

  • My first take discusses Usher’s pure talent. Way before Usher came into prominence, we smiled at the incredible talent of the Bee Gees, and the high-octane voice of Barry Gibb. This 25-year-old, listening to the Bee Gees for the first time, obviously had no clue of their pure talent. Listen to her comments at the end of the video. 🙂 (Yes, I know I am a hair-band guy, but if you do not like the Bee Gees, you need to get checked).
Pure Talent from the Bee Gees.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Sunday Funday!

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