Striking Hollywood writers won’t stop until artificial intelligence is stopped

The rise of generative AI, the hottest thing in the tech world today, is also on the minds of TV and movie writers as they try to reach a fair and equitable settlement to end the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike ( WGA).

The dispute between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) has entered its second month and June darkness is descending on Hollywood. Amazing writers remain determined to make their voices heard and meet demands, and one of the key sticking points is how AI tools potentially put creative work at risk.

“We know it’s not something we can walk away from,” said screenwriter and television producer Josh Friedman Decrypt Thursday outside the historic Paramount Pictures lot in Los Angeles. “They were here.”

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The use of artificial intelligence remains a critical factor in the WGA negotiations. The WGA proposals include regulations on the use of AI for projects covered by the union’s Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA), or collective bargaining agreement that covers benefits, rights and protections for most work performed by members.

The union proposed a regulation that AI cannot write or rewrite literary material for such projects and cannot be used as source material, also the material covered by MBA cannot be used to train generative AI. The AMPTP rejected the proposal.

“Our concerns are very specific,” Friedman said. The AMPTP’s response, Friedman said, was a promise to meet again once a year to discuss where the technology is.

Concerns about generative AI aren’t the only reason the WGA strikes. Other key requests include increased pay, higher residuals for shows that have significant audiences and services with sizable international subscriber numbers, and a more robust pay structure at various stages of film and television projects.

Is artificial intelligence taking over Hollywood?

While AI’s potential dangers to humanity have dominated the news lately, Friedman believes it’s not yet time to worry about a sentient threat like Skynet in “The Terminator.” And he should know something about it, having created the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series and co-created the story of Terminator: Dark Fate.”

Formed in 1954, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is one of the largest unions in the entertainment industry, with over 15,000 members. With its members currently out of work for weeks now, most major film and television productions have come to a standstill.

Joining the WGA members at the picket line in solidarity were members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). While he wasn’t speaking for them, Friedman said SAG members should also be concerned about AI-generated images and vocal deepfakes.

“This is a ‘now’ issue,” Friedman said. “I don’t think we’re far from AI-directed stuff. Everyone should be concerned.”

One of the things AI-generated writing lacks, Friedman said, is the human element that creates great stories. Modern AI tools may be able to generate a passable facsimile, but as some of the funnier picket signs have teased, they aren’t quite as capable of producing a real emotional response as a seasoned writer would be.

Surprising female writer shows her stand on artificial intelligence. Image: decipher

“A lot of what we write comes from ourselves,” he said. “Things we love, hate, fear, and things that happened to us when we were kids; what happened to us yesterday.”

Friedman also took issue with the way AI chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard generate their content, saying he’s not writing, but scraping other people’s work.

“It’s a plagiarism machine,” he added.

The writers won’t wait

Crossing Melrose Ave. to another group of protesters, other WGA members shared their concernsDecrypt on studies using artificial intelligence tools.

AI “is a big deal,” said writer and producer Molly Nussbaum (“Brave New World”). Decrypt outside Raleigh Studios. “On an existential level, it devalues ​​the work we do as writers and the creative process. Calling it ‘grunt work’ or just saying we can cultivate it and then you can just punch it…it shows a complete lack of understanding of what we do.”

Following the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November and the more advanced GPT-4 model in March, AI and its potential use cases have become a hot topic around the world, particularly in the entertainment and communications industries. news. This rang alarm bells throughout the WGA membership.

As Nussbaum explained, AI was at the forefront when the WGA asked its members about priorities for the upcoming negotiations. In May, computer scientist and actress Justine Bateman urged action in a tweet thread detailing how AI could disrupt the entertainment industry and what actors can do to protect themselves.

Image: decipher

“I know it’s a business, but it’s an entertainment and arts business,” Nussbaum said. “We have to remind ourselves that it’s part of it,” he added, also likening the use of artificial intelligence to plagiarism.

“If you use it to write a paper in college, it’s considered plagiarism. Why should it be any different if you use it to write a presentation?” she added. “AI isn’t generative; it’s just regurgitating a mix of what it finds on the internet and already existing sources.

Nussbaum once believed that Hollywood’s shift to AI was a problem for the future, but now it seems like it’s a problem for today that can’t wait as the role of creative writers is potentially marginalized by emerging technology.

“If we don’t start stockpiling now, then there won’t be any chance to deal with it in the future. The ship will have sailed,” Nussbaum said. “I think that’s why everyone feels really strongly that we want to come out in front now so that we can have some skin in this game and it’s not too late.”

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