“Uncanny Valley”—Japanese AI Actress Receives Mixed Reactions


Though not immediately obvious, an actress in a Japanese commercial was actually made using Artificial Intelligence.

Beverage company Ito En is the mastermind behind this. Their 15-second commercial opens in a futuristic setting, showcasing a wrinkled woman with gray hair skipping towards the camera while holding a bottle of their Oi Ocha Catechin Green Tea.

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The scenery changes to the present day, transforming her into the younger version of herself.

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The company wished to promote the idea that “the time to change the future is now” represented by their health benefits-filled tea.

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They claimed that their AI-generated talent is the first of its kind. Several netizens praised them for it, loving how realistic and innovative it was.

Though the use of technology was ground-breaking, not all viewers took to it well. One netizen commented that it did not promote good values.

What this commercial advertises is that this drink is liked by fake people.

— @freetheatoms

Some brought up the question that it could have crossed “uncanny valley” for others, disturbing them with how hyper-realistic the model was.

Has Itoen’s #AI talent crossed the “uncanny valley”, a phenomenon where human-like things cause discomfort or fear in humans when they surpass a certain level !? Humans are thought to reject things that are similar but not identical to themselves.#伊藤園 #お〜いお茶 #不気味の谷

— Gnirut (@Gnirut2023) October 23, 2023

Another pointed out that it could lead to legal issues regarding the talent on screen. This could potentially spill over to future works featuring AI models.

The commercial raises the legal question of whether Ito En can own rights to this character. There’s also the broader issue of how far AI-generated characters can take over work which traditionally required employing real models and actors.

— @Mulboyne

Check out the full commercial for yourself below.

 It featured a model made from artificial intelligence. 

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