May 3, 2023 - News

AI stars in Hollywood labor negotiations

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

The rise of artificial intelligence has become a legitimate concern in workplaces.

Driving the news: In its contract negotiations, the Writers Guild of America aims to limit the use of AI-generated dialogue or scenes.

Why it matters: It's one of the first instances in which AI has become a point of contention in labor negotiations as industries grapple with a technology that could replace workers in the future.

Between the lines: In San Francisco, there's an ongoing dialogue around how artificial intelligence can impact our society.

  • In March, the Misalignment Museum opened in the Mission with the aim of increasing awareness and knowledge about the potential risks of AI, Audrey Kim, the museum's creator, previously told Axios San Francisco.
  • Last month, a pop-up "baigel" shop powered by a fictitious robot named ChefGPT (no affiliation with the tech startup of the same name) aimed to encourage "conversation around where are humans going to find their purpose if some of their work is actually automated away," its human collaborator Jackson Perry told Axios SF.

Of note: There's a wide array of ways that AI is likely to disrupt Hollywood.

  • AI could allow popular actors to "speak" any number of foreign languages, for example. That might be more appealing to global audiences but also threatens the livelihoods of the actors who have made careers out of dubbing, say, American-made movies into German.
  • Similar technology is threatening to upend the audiobook industry as well, with AI narrators quickly improving and sometimes being trained on the human book readers they stand to replace.
  • There's also the concern that the same technology that allows deepfakes could be used to erode actors' control over their own likeness, giving studios the ability to generate new performances from an actor, living or dead, potentially without full consent or compensation.
  • And the concerns don't end there. Generative AI threatens to upend the special effects industry, which has been dominated by the likes of Industrial Light & Magic. Even individual costumers could be at risk, as AI might be used to place digital outfits on actors — an option that could give studios both cost savings and added flexibility.
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