Against Machine Learning Tools Used in the Production of Screen Actors, Directors, and The Other Stars and Stripes: What Does Hollywood Have to Say About It?
August says that no other union could have done what they did in this contract. The use of artificial intelligence was put into limits for the first time. That’s going to have a huge impact on the lives of writers.
The synthetic Nora Ephron may yet come to pass, but the deal struck this week between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) will go some way toward protecting writers against its impact.
It is hard to imagine studios telling artists the truth when asked to dismantle their initiatives and how they will prove it with machine-learning outputs. It’s difficult to prevent the studios from using tools that learn on their data. It is normal for companies to act first and beg forgiveness later, which is all the data, but one should assume they will continue to have all the data they can access. Some protections will be granted to highly regarded top earners. But these artists are predominantly white and male, a fraction of the union membership. There will be no protection for marginalized groups in the labor force. I don’t mean to begrudge the work of the DGA and WGA in crafting terms that may not adequately represent the scope of the technology. We can go further, and the guild has the opportunity to do so.
I’ve been in the entertainment industry since I was nine. I joined three professional organizations when I was young, including the Screen Actors Guild, the Writers Guild of America, and the Directors Guild of America. I got my start as a child actor on Broadway, studied film at NYU, then went on to act in movies like The Lost Boys and the Bill & Ted franchise while writing and directing my own narrative work. I’ve been through labor crises and strikes before, but the current work shutdown is the worst because we were forced to stop work when the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers refuse to accept the terms of the three unions.
But studios are already busy developing myriad uses for machine-learning tools that are both creative and administrative. Will they stop development because their own copyrighted product is at risk from machine learning tools they are not in control of, or because Big Tech monopolies won’t stop development because they can destroy the film and TV industry? Can the government rein in Big Tech when they know that China and other global entities will continue to advance these technologies? It’s a question of proof.
A Conversation with Alex Winter, the CEO of the Silicon Autonomy Trade Union, and the SAG / AMPTP ‘Standards for AI Protections’
Alex Winter is an actor and a writer. He starred in the Bill & Ted franchise and his narrative features include the cult classic Freaked and the critically acclaimed Fever. His current feature documentary, The YouTube Effect, premiered at Tribeca and is now available on digital.
SAG is still very much on strike, with plans to meet with the AMPTP next on Monday. In their meeting, I hope they can raise the bar another notch with even more specific and protective language.
I hope that everyone takes time to learn about these technologies, what they can and can’t do, and get involved in the industrial revolution that can provide tremendous benefit as well as enormous harm. It is not usually used to describe a populace that wants technology to go away. The people who worked in the textile industry were skilled at using technology and were very engaged with it. They weren’t an anti-tech movement but a pro-labor movement, fighting to prevent the exploitation and devaluation of their work by rapacious company overlords. If you want to know how to fix the problems we face from AI and other technology, become genuinely and deeply involved. Become a Luddite.
Opinions on “Theoretical Issues” – A Commentary on the WIRED Opinion Project (with an introduction by J’eves Bartoni and B. Chadlin)
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