AI is all the rage currently. What used to be an amusing assortment of nonsense (looking at you, Inspirobot) has now evolved into an intelligible creation source. AI is writing scripts, books, college students’ term papers (don’t do that), and creating original artwork. In fact, the current Writers Guild of America strike is due primarily to the use of AI and its potential to both replace writers and take intellectual property from writers as it “learns.” Many creators are worried about the future. Could AI replace Mickey Mouse?
Writers aren’t the only ones worried about being replaced by AI. Voice actors are becoming increasingly concerned they will soon become obsolete. The fear is that AI may clone their voice and likeness, allowing creators to use their talents without fair compensation for it. This idea would have seemed unthinkable just five short years ago and is now a very valid concern.
There is one guy, though, that’s not worried: Bret Iwan. Iwan is the current voice of the big cheese himself: Mickey Mouse! He is one of only four people in history to give voice to the iconic mouse. This elite group includes Iwan Wayne Allwine, Jim Macdonald, and Walt Disney himself. To be counted among such legends, we can see why AI doesn’t bother him.
He recently gave an interview promoting the Disney100 celebration and discussed his thoughts on AI and its potential to replace him. “Gosh, I would say, of course, there’s amazing technology being developed with AI, and it’s so impressive,” said Iwan. “But I don’t think anything can replace the heart of a character and, more importantly, the heart of storytelling.”
Iwan believes that the human touch to voice performance, especially a character like Mickey Mouse, is vital and not going anywhere. “[Storytelling is] unique to a performer, a writer, an animator, an artist, a creator. I have to believe that that part is what’s going to hold out and keep real people doing the job for a while,” he said.
Even though Disney could technically lose the rights to Mickey Mouse in the near future, it seems as though he (and his iconic falsetto voice) seem safe for now. Iwan stated that he plans to continue to voice Mickey for as long as his voice holds out! AI will never be able to compete with actual creative input from humans, at least not in Iwan’s estimation.