The Memo: People Make Glasgow: How did AI contribute to the viral Willy Wonka experience?

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People Make Glasgow: How did AI contribute to the viral Willy Wonka experience?

Rita McGonigle - 22 April 2024

Glasgow’s unlicensed Willy Wonka event was a viral sensation... for all the wrong reasons. Unsuspecting parents were lured in by promises of mountains of chocolate, an enchanted garden, and detailed posters illustrating an elaborate spread of props and other delights. However, when guests arrived, they were ultimately disenchantedinstead greeted with a measly stick-on backdrop and a frankly pathetic bouncy castle. For £35 a ticket, children were offered a quarter of a cup of supermarket own-brand lemonade and a singular jellybean, and many were also driven to tears by a made-up, AI-generated character called ‘The Unknown.’ As parents became more enraged, the police were called to deal with the situation and, eventually, all ticket purchases were refunded. 

This event has raised questions into the increasing use of artificial intelligence, with actors stating that the entire script and posters were all entirely AI generated. Currently, there is a lack of concrete legislation regarding AI in the UK, with different programs growing too quickly for lawmakers to keep up. Policymakers are looking at focusing on various language programs, such as ChatGPT, rather than the users of such software, so our Glaswegian friends are in the clear! The UK government is looking to slowly regulate to allow for innovation, as opposed to European counterparts who are clamping down on usage due to the link between AI and disinformation.  

AI can generate imagery in a matter of seconds, creating detailed pictures of something which may not even exist. The lack of regulation in the UK has allowed for an increase in this misinformation. The current Online Safety Act only features two references to misinformation, which will likely make it unfit for the rise of AI. With the UK in no rush to introduce strict regulation, the Glasgow Willy Experience may well be the first of many events which underdeliver when compared to their impressive ad campaigns. However, we bet none will be quite as unique!