Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat to Actors and Writers?

Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat to Actors and Writers?

AI threat to actors and writers

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a prominent player in various industries, revolutionizing how tasks are performed. From automated customer service to self-driving cars, AI has proven its ability to streamline processes and enhance efficiency. However, the entertainment industry, particularly Hollywood, is currently grappling with the potential impact of AI on actors and writers. As unions representing American actors and screenwriters go on strike, concerns about the use and regulation of AI are at the forefront of negotiations with major Hollywood studios.

Screen Actors and Writers Guild are voicing concerns

SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are voicing their concerns about AI’s potential to replace human workers. With the emergence of text generators like ChatGPT, there is a fear that screenplays could be written entirely by machines, and actors’ images could be manipulated to create characters without human involvement.

“We will not be having our jobs taken away and given to robots,” emphasized Bryan Cranston, the acclaimed actor known for his role in “Breaking Bad,” during a recent rally in support of the SAG-AFTRA strike. The unions are determined to protect the dignity and livelihoods of their members. On the other side of the negotiation table, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) claims to have offered “groundbreaking protections” to prevent AI from replacing human workers.

Generative AI has sparked debates — Will writers and actors be replaced?

The use of generative AI, such as ChatGPT and Midjourney, has sparked debates about its potential to replace writers and actors on movie sets. These AI applications can create new text or images, but they first need to be trained on existing material similar to the content they aim to generate.

Text generators, also known as Large Language Models, have vast amounts of text available online for training purposes. However, training material for images and videos is comparatively limited. Despite this, AI models are already being trained on existing visual content, raising concerns about the ethical use of personal images. Justine Bateman, an actor, writer, and director, describes it as a scenario where AI replaces human work using the materials created by filmmakers.

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The entertainment industry has already witnessed the use of AI

Although the strike and negotiations between the guilds and major Hollywood studios shed light on the potential impact of AI, the entertainment industry has already witnessed the use of AI in various ways. For instance, the digital resurrection of actor Peter Cushing in the 2016 film “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and the digital de-aging of stars like Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson demonstrate the current capabilities of AI in film production.

AI has also been used to modify films to meet specific content ratings.

In the case of the film “Fall,” profanities were replaced by computer-generated words and facial movements, allowing the movie to receive a less restrictive rating. These examples highlight the role of AI in enabling digital effects and modifications that were previously unattainable.

While AI has made significant strides in the entertainment industry, there are still limitations to its capabilities. The use of AI is constrained by factors such as computing power, training material availability, and time.

Image processing requires more computational power than textual information, making it slower and more resource-intensive. Generating videos consisting of multiple images is a particularly time-consuming process. As computing power advances exponentially, AI technology will gradually overcome these limitations.

The training material used by AI models is also a subject of debate.

The guilds argue that those contributing to the training data should receive proper compensation, as their work forms the foundation for AI-generated content. The legal and ethical implications surrounding using copyrighted material for AI training are complex and must be addressed.

The ongoing strike and negotiations

The ongoing strike and negotiations between SAG-AFTRA, WGA, and the major Hollywood studios highlight the differing perspectives regarding AI’s role in the entertainment industry. SAG-AFTRA claims that the studios’ proposals leave actors vulnerable to having their work replaced by digital replicas. In contrast, the studios argue that they seek informed consent and fair compensation for using actors’ likenesses.

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Similarly, the WGA aims to prevent AI from being used to write or rewrite literary material and to prohibit the use of writers’ work for AI training. The studios responded by suggesting that the topic of AI requires further discussion.

Could the debate reshape Hollywood?

These proposals can potentially reshape Hollywood and impact the careers of actors and writers. If limitations are placed on the work of background actors or if AI is used to supplement or assist writers, it could have long-lasting effects on aspiring performers and writers who rely on these opportunities to establish their careers.

The impact of AI extends beyond Hollywood, with potential consequences for various industries. Lawsuits surrounding AI are currently pending in the United States, and their outcomes will have far-reaching implications.

Machines recognized as authors?

If machines are recognized as authors, they could replace human authors with AI in industries that rely on copyright, such as music, film, book publishing, and journalism. Moreover, AI’s capabilities could extend to cognitive tasks, potentially replacing humans in many white-collar jobs.

However, experts like Haibing Lu from Santa Clara University believe that AI will not completely replace human beings. While AI can assist in various tasks, human expertise is still required to verify the accuracy of information. AI should be seen as a tool that enhances productivity rather than a complete replacement for human creativity.

AI continues to advance in every field.

As AI technology advances, questions arise about the future of entertainment. Could AI-scripted and AI-created movies captivate audiences? Will they evoke the same emotional responses as productions involving human creativity?

The potential for AI to create movies starring personalized avatars is already being discussed. Joe Russo, co-director of “Avengers: Endgame,” envisions a future where individuals can request movies featuring their photoreal avatars alongside famous personalities. This raises intriguing possibilities for personalized entertainment experiences.

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Q: Can AI completely replace actors and writers in the entertainment industry? A: While AI has the potential to automate specific tasks, complete replacement is unlikely. AI can enhance productivity and assist in creative processes, but human expertise and creativity remain essential.

Q: How does AI training material impact the entertainment industry? A: Using existing material for AI training raises questions about compensation for those whose work is used. The ethical and legal aspects of using copyrighted material for training AI models are under debate.

Q: Will AI have broader implications beyond Hollywood? A: Yes, AI’s impact extends beyond entertainment. If machines are recognized as authors, it could lead to significant changes in industries that rely on copyright, and AI has the potential to replace humans in cognitive tasks.

Q: Are there any limitations to AI in entertainment? A: Yes, AI in entertainment is limited by factors such as computing power, training material availability, and time. However, as technology advances, these limitations will be overcome gradually.

Q: How will AI affect aspiring actors and writers? A: The use of AI-generated content and the potential limitations placed on the work of background actors and writers could impact aspiring performers and writers, potentially altering career paths in the industry.

As the negotiations between Hollywood unions and major studios continue, the future of AI in entertainment remains uncertain. Balancing the potential benefits of AI with the preservation of human creativity and livelihoods is a complex challenge. However, one thing is clear: AI’s impact on the entertainment industry will continue to generate debates and shape the future of the creative arts.

First reported by USAToday.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Venti Views; Unsplash; Thank you!


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