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No more actors? The Actors vs A.I. battle is bigger than Hollywood

Hollywood actors join writers on strike for AI protections

The future of generative artificial intelligence in Hollywood — and how it can be used to replace labor — has become a crucial sticking point for actors going on strike.

In a recent news conference, Fran Drescher, president of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (more commonly known as SAG-AFTRA), declared that “artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to creative professions, and all actors and performers deserve contract language that protects them from having their identity and talent exploited without consent and pay.”

“If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble. We are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines,” Drescher said.

SAG-AFTRA has joined the Writer’s Guild of America, which represents Hollywood screenwriters and has been on strike for more than two months, in demanding a contract that explicitly demands AI regulations to protect writers and the works they create.

Artificial intelligence tools that mimic humans have in recent years become far more effective in creating images and text — and more common. Technology that replicates individuals’ faces and voices is becoming more prominent in Hollywood. Chatbots like ChatGPT, which can convincingly reproduce human writing, have surged in popularity since late last year. But they also have clear shortcomings: the bots often get basic facts wrong and are derivative when asked to write creative works.

The actors’ concerns highlight a broader anxiety among entertainers and people in many other creative professions. Many fear that, without strict regulation, their work will be replicated and remixed by artificial intelligence tools, and that such a transformation will both cut their control over their work and hurt their ability to earn a living.

“They proposed that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day’s pay, and their company should own that scan, their image, their likeness, and should be able to use it for the rest of eternity in any project they want, with no consent and no compensation,” he said.

Alex Winter, a filmmaker who has directed several documentaries about the dangers of emerging technologies and is also a member of all three guilds, said the unions should take an extreme position on AI rights, given the unknowns about the technology.

“My concern is that if we give them a little bit of room in the door, they’re just going to knock the door open. Because you just don’t know how these technologies work,” Winter said

Source: NBC News

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