It might have sounded more like the plot of a movie even just a few years ago, but the consequences of
AI is one of many issues at the heart of the current
“Regulate use of artificial intelligence on MBA-covered projects,” reads the WGA’s proposal (MBA refers to the guild’s minimum basic agreement, which establishes a base line of pay for writers). “AI can’t write or rewrite literary material; can’t be used as source material; and MBA-covered material can’t be used to train AI.”
As for what’s written in the AMPTP’s “offers” column in response to this request? “Rejected our proposal. Countered by offering annual meetings to discuss advancements in technology.”
Why are Hollywood writers worried about AI?
Despite limitations in quality (and ongoing questions of copyright),
This last possibility, in particular, has Hollywood writers particularly worried. C. Robert Cargill, the writer behind Sinister, Doctor Strange, and
Speaking to Mashable, Cargill said that he hasn’t had any run-ins with AI in the industry yet himself, but believes it’s not that far off in the future.
“The WGA (and writers in general, really) are a forward-thinking body,” he says. “15 years ago, the Guild fought for residuals and pay in the online marketplace, something that didn’t really exist yet (Netflix wouldn’t start making its own shows until three years later). Now we’re the only creatives with a foothold in the streaming world when it comes to residuals.
“Everyone knows AI isn’t there yet, but we want to make certain that when it is, we aren’t steamrolled by it.”
Credit: David McNew/Getty Images
Cargill outlines a scenario in which a producer gets an idea on the way to work, feeds it into an AI, and then starts sending it to writers by lunch, hiring them to make it sound more like a person wrote it. Rewrites, he points out, are
“With streamers’ addiction to paying minimums, we can clearly see a future in which the first drafts are done by AI to circumvent the cost of a real first draft — leaving all of the creative heavy lifting to be done by writers for bottom dollar. Are the studios pursuing this? Not to my knowledge at the moment. But the fact that they did not flat out agree to it when we asked them not to is extraordinarily revelatory. If you ask the person you’re dating not to cheat on you and they refuse to promise not to, that’s what we call a big red flag.”
What will the future of AI look like in Hollywood?
It’s difficult to gauge just how quickly AI-generated content might advance and improve. But given the speed at which ChatGPT has come out the gates,
“The laws that protect our scripts from being stolen, used, or copied by other people should also apply to machines.”
Exactly how this technology might be used by people in Hollywood remains to be seen, and the outcome of the ongoing negotiations between the WGA and the AMPTP will have an undeniable impact.
Cargill, for his part, says he shares the Guild’s position: “No writer should ever be handed a piece of AI generated content to rewrite or polish, and that the scripts we’ve written aren’t used by studios to generate scripts themselves. The laws that protect our scripts from being stolen, used, or copied by other people should also apply to machines.”