“They Are Not Just Products.” — Fans Have Mixed Feelings After SM Entertainment Lists AI Versions Of NCT For Sale
Over the last couple of years, SM Entertainment have delved heavily into the idea of personal AIs and other forms of artificial intelligence. With the debut of aespa, who each have an ae version of themselves and characters like Naevis in their lore, it’s easy to see the direction SM is heading.
Recently, NCT opened their NCT HOME exhibition and inadvertently began a conversation about K-Pop idols’ treatment by their companies.
As part of the exhibit, fans could interact with the members through an interactive touchscreen poster. As fans used their fingers on the poster, the NCT member would blink, smile, and move his head as though he was really there.
Fans had mixed feelings about the AI posters, with many calling them “creepy” because of how they could be manipulated.
Is this weird to anyone else like this is very black mirror to me.. https://t.co/5IKB2NPpFh
— sungchan's bodyguard (@Iove444eva) February 8, 2023
Now SM Entertainment has taken the idea to the next level and introduced app versions of each member’s AI. For $12.99 USD, fans can download the application to their phone and “meet and interact with” their member of choice.
Each app’s description says, “you can not only meet your artists but also make them move.”
Fans have found this even more unnerving than the posters, which will only be on display for a limited time. With these apps, fans will have a controllable version of their favorite member in their pocket for as long as they want.
am i the only one who finds the nct home app creepy…. its pretty dehumanizing to the boys.. they're actual humans not some character that can be "controlled", what was sm's train of thought when releasing this
— saf 🦦 (@taromarklee) March 17, 2023
This nct home app is scary af to me….. this is lowkey a form of dehumanizing idols i fear— pic.twitter.com/Cp6kc0WPDV
— ałé🪐 (@iamadeadstar) March 17, 2023
Some NCTzens have even shared notices that they will not support the app because it dehumanizes the artists.
— ً (@tensfeed) March 17, 2023
As the lines between consent and AIs continue to be blurred, fans are worried this could encourage some fans to feel as though the group are simply products to manipulate rather than artists with their own feelings.
nct home app is just so weird lol. they're human beings not toys for u to play with. i wish sm didn't encourage this kinda weird fan behavior. like stop feeding into it. kpop stan culture needs to change in that sense. but this nct home shit is on another level of weird 🤢🤢🤢🤢
— aura ☄️ (@dscyongsqin) March 17, 2023
i’m sorry but SM launching an app that further fuels people’s parasocial relationships and promotes nct as products instead of actual artists is just so fucked up
— 🙊 renminatron823 (@BAE4HYUCK) March 17, 2023
nct home app really doesnt sit right with me.. wdym purchasing that only for controlling their faces (?) like this is another level of capitalism and dehumanizing them i guess its creepy tho not at the way SM tryna make them as talking angela😭😭😭
— 🥣 (@retrockstar) March 17, 2023
You can read more about deepfakes, a concept similar to AIs, below.
Korean Netizens Call For Strict Measures Against “Deepfake” Videos Based On K-Pop Idols