Doc Talk Podcast: Kirsten Johnson On Looming Impact Of AI, Kate Middleton Photo Controversy & That Susan Sontag Film Starring Kristen Stewart

We are becoming part machine.

That is the startling observation of Emmy-winning filmmaker Kirsten Johnson, who has been thinking deeply about the ramifications of artificial intelligence for human culture. The director of Cameraperson and Dick Johnson Is Dead will deliver a keynote at the IDA’s Getting Real conference in Los Angeles this week, addressing what she sees as a fundamental truth about AI that sets it apart from human endeavors: AI “lacks a body,” and as such is disengaged from the fate of humanity.

Johnson joins the latest edition of Deadline’s Doc Talk podcast to discuss her feelings about AI – its areas of promise, but also the way in which the emerging technology is going to fundamentally alter our experience. She notes that more people are already creating new images through generative AI prompts – e.g., “Make me a photo of a frog in a pinstripe suit balancing on a twig” – than actually taking pictures themselves.

The filmmaker also discusses two documentaries she executive produced that are heading to the Hot Docs festival in Toronto later this month: Helen and the Bear and A Photographic Memory.

Doc Talk co-host John Ridley asks Johnson about the controversy over the AI-altered family photo that Kate Middleton released amid speculation over her health and whereabouts.

The director also shares new details on her upcoming narrative feature on Susan Sontag, an innovative project that will star Kristen Stewart as the famed cultural critic and author of On Photography, Against Interpretation, Illness as Metaphor and more. Johnson explains why she thinks Stewart is perfect for the role.

That’s on the new episode of Deadline’s Doc Talk podcast, co-hosted by Oscar winner Ridley and Matt Carey, Deadline’s documentary editor. Doc Talk is a production of Deadline and Ridley’s Nō Studios, presented with support from National Geographic Documentary Films.

Listen to the episode above or on major podcast platforms including Spotify, iHeart and Apple.

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