Actors in Hollywood have gone on strike with artificial intelligence becoming a sticking point for them.

Last week, the President of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) Fran Drescher said that artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to the creative profession and that all actors and performers deserve contract language that protects them from having their identity and talent exploited without consent and pay.

Drescher said actors have to stand tall now or they will be in deep trouble. They will all be replaced by machines.

SAG-AFTRA together with the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) has been on strike for more than two months with demands that writers be protected from AI.

Hollywood and AI

Among the demands are that AI not be used to write or rewrite literary material; not be used as source material; and [works covered by union contracts] not be used to train AI. The demands were issued to Hollywood producers on May 1.

These concerns are understandable as entertainers and people in various creative professions fear being replaced or ousted.

SAG-AFTRA’s chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said that AI exploited actors who don’t have speaking roles.

“They proposed that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day’s pay, and their company should own that scan, their image, their likeness and should be able to use it for the rest of eternity in any project they want, with no consent and no compensation,” he said.

Comedian Sarah Silverman has also filed copyright infringement lawsuits against Open AI, which owns ChatGPT and Facebook’s Meta.

The lawsuit sates that the companies have summarized the plaintiff’s books which could only have been done by reading and reproducing them without permission or approval from the author.

Actors vs AI

Actors and writers say that AI is a huge threat to their industry. Writer and director Justine Bateman said, “AI has to be addressed now or never. If we don’t make strong rules now, they simply won’t notice if we strike in three years, because at that point they won’t need us.”

She called on the Screen Actors Guild to make AI regulations a central part of their contracts going forward to protect themselves.

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