Hollywood Actors Strike One Fears of Being Replaced by AI

Hollywood Actors Strike Over Fears of Being Replaced by AI

In an unprecedented event, the first of its kind in over four decades, actors from the heart of the cinematic world, Hollywood, have boldly decided to embark on a strike. This drastic action has effectively brought the bustling American film and television industry to a startling standstill. The main motivation behind this strike lies in the concerns actors harbor about the potential and far-reaching implications of artificial intelligence (AI) on their profession.

The distinguished union representing actors, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), engaged in negotiations in the United States for better protective measures for its members against AI, but unfortunately, these talks ended without an agreement. The union issued a potent warning, stating in no uncertain terms that “artificial intelligence poses a significant threat to creative professions.” This public announcement signified the union’s unwavering commitment to tackling this concerning issue.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the lead negotiator for SAG-AFTRA, voiced strong criticisms about the proposals offered by film and TV producers in regard to AI. He argued that the proposals allowed for studios to scan and capture the faces of background actors for a mere single-day’s pay, after which they could claim perpetual ownership. This would further permit unrestricted usage of these artists’ likenesses in any project without the necessity of obtaining their consent or offering any form of remuneration.

This scenario bears an uncanny resemblance to an episode from the critically-acclaimed Black Mirror series by Charlie Brooker, titled “Joan Is Awful”. The episode centers on a fictional tale where famed Hollywood actress, Salma Hayek, is embroiled in a struggle after finding out that a production company exploited her AI-created likeness without her consent or knowledge.

But these fears about “performance cloning” are not limited to SAG-AFTRA alone. Liam Budd, a spokesperson from the UK acting union, Equity, voiced apprehensions about AI’s pervasive influence in areas such as audiobooks automation, synthesized voice-over work, creation of digital avatars for business videos, and the rising trend of deepfakes in cinema. The main objective of Equity is to provide comprehensive education for its members about their rights in this swiftly changing world dominated by AI.

The effects of AI are also reaching the realm of writing, leading to serious apprehensions. The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB), a trade union that represents writers from a diverse array of mediums, has pointed out a series of concerns. These include unauthorized usage of writers’ creations, the lack of proper labeling of AI-produced content, dwindling job prospects for writers, suppressed wages, and a potential decrease in the creative industry’s contribution to the UK’s economy and national identity. As a measure to protect writers’ interests, the WGGB proposed recommendations such as the necessity for AI developers to obtain express permissions before using writers’ work and mandating transparency about the data utilized for training AI tools.

WGGB’s Deputy General Secretary, Lesley Gannon, underscored the importance of striking a cautious balance between the benefits and potential risks of burgeoning technologies. Gannon emphasized that regulations are vital in safeguarding workers’ rights and protecting audiences from fraud and misinformation.

In a call to action, performers’ unions are demanding stricter regulations to keep in check the unbridled growth of emerging technologies such as AI. With AI evolving at an unprecedented pace, traditional notions of ownership have become far more complex. For example, when people use their likeness in AI-generated portrait applications like DrawAnyone, DALL-E, or Snapchat, the resulting images become part of the public domain and are free for anyone to use. Current copyright law provides no protection for these new images.