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TV Studios want to use AI. Now what?
"We’re not going to discuss a technology that we think we’re going to use.”
There was some understandable push-back when I wrote my first AI / WGA piece in February. The main issue from folks was simple: Too many things need fixing in this year’s WGA negotiations. AI can wait. And they’re right. A lot of things need fixing.
However, I’m not sure AI can wait, especially now that the studios have made their plans crystal clear.
Deadline’s (excellent) new strike podcast featured a choice quote from Billy Ray, Oscar-nominated writer & previous WGA co-chair, this week:
“In the room, when AI was brought up, the quote that came back to us was, we’re not going to discuss a technology that we think we’re going to use.”
This quote jives with this document released on May 1st:
It also jives with everything WGA leaders have said to the press this last week. Many argue that AI “mini-rooms” are the logical outgrowth of the guild’s current mini-room problem.
A few days ago, the Studios realized there was a backlash to their stance on AI and released this statement:
“We’re creative companies, and we value the work of creatives. The best stories are original, insightful and often come from people’s own experiences. AI raises hard, important creative and legal questions for everyone. For example, writers want to be able to use this technology as part of their creative process, without changing how credits are determined, which is complicated given AI material can’t be copyrighted. So it’s something that requires a lot more discussion, which we’ve committed to doing.”
*often come italicized for maximum comic effect.
1.) Even if it was a lie, all they had to say was, “We have no intention of replacing writer jobs with AI.”
2.) Their closing bit is valid, and why I wrote, “AI art is for Losers.” Writers can’t have it both ways. The Studios know this and will seek to divide the stout anti-AI folks like me and the “I dunno, it helps me figure out shit I don’t feel like dealing with” folks.
OKAY. So, the Studios have laid out their cards. They want to use AI. Now what?
Let’s say they can legally use AI to generate outlines, first drafts…staff mini-rooms. What can unions do to stop it? How do you regulate AI when the world’s governments are asleep on the issue? How do you stem the rising tide of tech?
More to the point: If the WGA’s other issues are eventually met, will they continue striking over AI?
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