June 1, 2023

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Television and film writers are fighting to save their jobs from artificial intelligence. They won’t be the last

(CNN) By all accounts, John August is a successful screenwriter. He wrote movies like Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels, and Go. But even he worries about the impact AI could have on his work.

a Strong new crop AI tools, trained on a large pool of online data, can now generate articles, song lyrics, and other written work in response to user prompts. While there are obvious limits to how well AI tools can produce compelling creative stories, these tools are only getting more advanced, putting writers like Augustus on alert.

“Screenwriters worry about our scripts being the feedstock that goes into these systems to generate other scripts and treatments and write story ideas,” the WGA panelist told CNN in August. “The work we do cannot be replaced by these systems.”

August is one of more than 11,000 members of the WGA who have gone on strike It halts production of some TV shows, on Tuesday morning, immediately and may delay the start of other new seasons later this year.

The WGA is demanding a range of changes from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), from higher wages to receiving clear guidance on working with streaming services. But as part of their claim, the WGA is also fighting to protect their livelihoods from AI.

In a proposal posted on the WGA website this week, the labor union said AI should be regulated so that it “cannot write or rewrite literary material, it cannot be used as sources” and the work of writers cannot be used “to train AI.”

August said the AI ​​request “was one of the last things” added to the WGA slate, but it’s clearly an issue writers care about that needs to be addressed now rather than when they’re out of touch again in three years. By then, he said, “it may be too late.”

The WGA said the proposal had been rejected by AMPTP, which responded by offering annual meetings to discuss developments in the technology. August said that AMPTP’s response shows that they want to keep their options open.

In a document sent to CNN in response to some of the WGA’s requests, AMPTP said it values ​​the creators’ work and “the best stories are original, insightful, and often come from people’s own experiences.”

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“Artificial intelligence raises difficult and important creative and legal questions for all,” she wrote. “Writers want to be able to use this technology as part of their creative process, without changing how credits are assigned, which is complicated since AI material can’t be copyrighted. So it’s something that requires a lot of discussion, which we’re committed to doing.” .

She added that the current WGA defines an “author” as a “person,” and said that “AI-generated material will not qualify for writing credit.”

The book’s attempt to compromise AI is perhaps the most high-profile labor battle yet to address concerns about the cutting-edge technology that have captured the world’s attention in the six months since ChatGPT’s public release.

Economists at Goldman Sachs appreciate that Up to 300 million complete jobs The world can be automated in some way by the latest wave of artificial intelligence. White-collar workers, including those in management and legal positions, are expected to be the hardest hit. And the effect may be faster than some think: IBM CEO newly He suggested that artificial intelligence could eliminate the need for thousands of jobs at his company alone in the next five years.

David Gunkel, a professor in the Department of Communications at Northern Illinois University who tracks AI in media and entertainment, said screenwriters want clear guidelines around AI because “they can see the writing on the wall.”

“Artificial intelligence is already replacing human labor in many other areas of content creation – copywriting, journalism, SEO writing, etc,” he said. The WGA is simply trying to stand up to its members and protect its members from… ‘technological unemployment’.

The sit-in in front of Netflix begins in Hollywood, California on May 2, 2023.

While Hollywood film and television writers may currently lead the charge, professionals in other industries will almost certainly take care of it.

“There are definitely other industries that need to pay close attention to this space,” said Rowan Curran, an analyst at Forrester Research who focuses on artificial intelligence. He noted that digital artists, musicians, engineers, real estate professionals, and customer service workers will all feel the impact of generative AI.

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Written by Justine Bateman, a former writer, director, and actress, in A tweet Shortly after the start of the strike. “Understand that our fight is the same fight that will confront your industry next: the devaluation of human effort, skill and talent in favor of automation and profits.”

Artificial intelligence in film and television

Artificial intelligence has had a place in Hollywood for years. In 2018’s “Marvel Avengers Infinity Wars,” the face of Thanos – actor Josh Brolin’s character – was partially created using technology.

Crowd and battle scenes in movies including “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Meg” have used artificial intelligence, and the most recent Indiana Jones movie has used it to make Harrison Ford’s character look younger. It has also been used for color correction, finding footage more quickly during post-production and making improvements such as removing scratches and dust from footage.

But artificial intelligence in screenwriting is in its infancy. In March, ChatGPT co-wrote the “South Park” episode titled “Deep Learning” and the gadget was very central to the plot (characters use ChatGPT to talk to girls and write school papers).

August said that the writers are very much willing to play ball with the gadgets, as long as they are used as launching pads or for research, and they are still credited and used by writers throughout the production process.

“Screenwriters are not geeks,” said August, “and we’ve been quick to use new technologies to help us tell our stories.” “We’ve gone from typewriters to word processors happily and productivity has increased. … But we don’t need a magic typewriter that writes scripts on its own.”

As large language models are trained on text written by humans before, finding patterns in words and sentences to generate responses to prompts, there are intellectual property concerns as well. “It is entirely possible for [chatbot] To generate a screenplay in the style of a certain type of director or screenwriter without the prior consent of the original artist or the Hollywood studio that holds the intellectual property rights to that material,” Jonkel said.

For example, one could push ChatGPT to generate a zombie apocalypse drama in the style of David Mamet. “Who should be given credit for that?” August said. “What happens if we allow a producer or studio executive to give a treatment or a presentation or something like a script that no writer has ever touched?”

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Currently, the legal landscape remains highly unsettled on this issue, with regulations lagging behind the rapid pace of AI development. In early April, the Biden administration said it was seeking public comment on how to hold AI systems like ChatGPT accountable.

“We can’t protect the studios from their poor choices,” said August. “We can only protect writers from abuse.”

Can AI cross the picket line?

The strike, and the AI-related demands specifically, comes at a time when both writers and studios are feeling financial pain.

Many of the companies AMPTP represents have seen their share prices fall, which has led to significant cost cutting, including layoffs. The need to manage costs, along with addressing the fallout from the strike, could make companies feel more pressure to turn to AI for scriptwriting.

In the short term, this could be an effective way to circumvent the WGA strike, mainly because [large language models]Those considered property, not individuals, could be employed in this task, said Gonkel, without violating the picket line. Such an ‘experiment’ could also show production studios whether it can be ‘got it done with less than human involvement’, he said.

But Joshua Glick, visiting professor of film and electronic arts at Bard University, thinks such a move would be unwise.

Deepfakes were created, said Glick, who also co-created Unstable Evidence on Screen, an exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York.

“At the same time, I think the outcome of those scenarios will be mediocre at best,” he said.

No matter how the studios react, the problem is not likely to go away in Hollywood. August said that film and television actors’ contracts will expire in June, and many are worried about how their faces, bodies, and voices will be affected by AI.

He added, “As writers, we don’t want tools to replace us, but actors have the same concerns with AI, as directors, editors, and anyone else who does creative work in the industry.”