Take a look at this commercial. It is the latest commercial of the “Oi Ocha catechin green tea” drink, by the Japanese beverage company Ito En Ltd. While it seems like a typical Japanese commercial, you will be surprised to discover that the model is actually not a real human: it’s an AI-generated representation. This is the first case of a commercial in Japan featuring a model generated by artifical intelligence (in this case provided by the company AI model Inc.).

The commercial has  drawn a lot of attention, particularly across various social media platforms. While some users expressed concern that AI will soon replace human performers, others highlighted the use of AI models as a potential solution to off-camera scandals: if your performer doesn’t exist, there is a reduced risk of tarnishing the company’s reputation due to their actions or declarations, and also eliminates the risk of sexual abuse by talent agencies.

AI is progressively becoming a focal point of discussion globally, with major tech companies implementing it across various fields. At the recent Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies, Japan’s major annual electronics show held last week in Chiba, AI took the spotlight. In a panel held on October 14th, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida presented a draft of 10 guidelines for AI-related businesses, emphasizing the need for both companies developing AI and users to exercise responsibility, cautioning against overreliance on the technology and biased data usage in machine learning.

Despite numerous calls for caution from the government, the AI train in Japan is running fast and shows no signs of slowing down. With local governments incorporating generative AI for some of their operations, and even the Japanese Police adopting AI in hunt for online crimes, it’s evident that many perceive this technology as an invaluable tool for tasks that are time-consuming or beyond human capabilities. Establishing clear regulations for its use will be critical in ensuring the responsible and ethical integration of AI into Japanese society.