Robert Downey Jr. and will.i.am lifted the lid on their YouTube series The Age of A.I. and how machine learning is going to change the world, with the latter saying the next five years are going to be “bumpy as f*ck.”
The Iron Man star and the Black Eyed Peas founder, along with exec producer Susan Downey and Nadine Zylstra, Head of Family Entertainment and Learning, YouTube Originals, spoke about the show and the subject in a lively conversation as part of Deadline’s Virtual Screening Series.
Downey Jr. said the project originated at YouTube and he was keen to tackle the topic and work with will.i.am. “A great group of folks came together and to me, so much of my life has been about on the job training, whether I was working at a restaurant as a busboy or starting to take an interest in AI as life is imitating art is imitating life, and then Nadine brought this whole idea. I think will.i.am is the great crossover between being an icon in entertainment and then genuinely steeped in all of advent of this transformative thing, AI,” he said.
The Voice UK judge will.i.am added that he was keen to work with the Downey Jr. on the project. “First off, signing on to work with YouTube, Robert Downey Jr. on a subject around AI that I’m passionate about, I’ve been working in the field for about six years with a team that I’ve built, was a dream come true.”
Susan Downey revealed the show featured more than 130 scientists and almost 100 days of shooting.
“It was like two and a half years in the making on various things. It was important to move as quickly as we could so the science didn’t become obsolete, but at the same time it was really important that we got stories with heart and entertainment or emotion so that we stayed connected to it, it wasn’t just learning that goes over your head or you get bored, and you when get people like Will involved who has a real passion but whose passion is infectious, and that was really exciting.” she said. “So, it was just this incredibly, I hate using this word because it’s overused, but it was an organic process.”
The show, which is produced by Team Downey, Sonar Entertainment and Network Entertainment, came out of YouTube’s Originals learning division. “YouTube is this extraordinary place where people come to learn, and so when you think about that, what are the Originals that can really inspire people to do that learning and recognize the incredible platform that we have, and so AI is this really obviously very relevant, super interesting field for us, and we were looking for the right show to bring that story to life, and of course the perfect partners,” Zylstra said.
Check out a clip from the conversation in the video above.