People picket outside the FOX studios on the first day of the Hollywood writers’ strike on May 2, 2023 in Los Angeles.

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Hollywood is preparing for another labor battle, and once again concerns about artificial intelligence are coming to the fore.

The Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance has three weeks and two days from Wednesday to strike a deal with the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists — or watch crowds of picketers outside the studio gates.

Hollywood talent wants to create sandboxes for the use of artificial intelligence in television and film productions in the future.

A recent series of Deep viral fake trailers Portraits of Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, and Timothee Chalamet appear as Wes Anderson-styled versions of star Wars And Lord of the rings The characters exacerbated concerns that actors in films and television shows could be replaced without proper permissions or payments.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, national executive director and chief negotiator at SAG-AFTRA, told CNBC in an emailed statement: “Some unauthorized uses of artificial intelligence may effectively devalue some of the performance of some of our members, but the concerns go far beyond that. “.

“Our members have a right to know what projects they’re working on, what dialogue they’re having, what reason their character is doing, and what actions their body will be entrusted with,” he said. “Our members are human beings, not puppets, and it is a crime to use AI technology to make them do or say something without their informed consent.”

Read more: Artificial intelligence poses a new threat to newsrooms, and they are taking action

Artificial intelligence has been a major concern for all Hollywood unionists, who see their jobs as particularly vulnerable to this new technology. For its part, AMPTP Artificial intelligence technology “It raises difficult and important creative and legal questions for all.”

The Directors Guild of America managed to secure a preliminary deal with producers over the weekend that included a pay increase starting at 5% for the first year, an increase in tailings from streaming and a guarantee that artificial intelligence could not replace duties performed by members. DGA Board of Directors Unanimously approved the agreementThis clears the way for members to vote on it.

Both the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA are seeking protection against the use of artificial intelligence in their negotiations, as well as increased compensation for streaming content.

SAG-AFTRA has acknowledged that AI technology can have its benefits in the industry, but wants to ensure that any use of AI to duplicate an actor or create a new performance is done with the consent and payment of the actor. The Syndicate already has similar rules when it comes to taking computer-generated images.

“Generative AI tools should be deployed to help and enhance humans, rather than replace them,” said Crabtree Ireland. “Our members fundamentally want to ensure a human-centered approach to implementing AI in our industry, where AI serves people, not the other way around.”

Already, some performers, such as James Earl Jones, have agreed to have their voices reproduced for posthumous use. Jones, 92, voiced Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise and has sought to exit the role. Jones was compensated and technology was used to bring Vader’s iconic voice to Disney+’s “Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

Representatives have varying levels of comfort with how AI will be used, which is why SAG-AFTRA looks to advocate for informed consent when it sits down with AMPTP. Essentially, the union wants to ensure that when an actor agrees to use their image or voice in a specific project, it is only used for that intended purpose and the actors are compensated appropriately.

The fear is that studios could try to cut costs and increase revenue by using AI to pump out new content by over-supplementing existing material, such as how Anderson creates parodies.

Brave new world of AI gods and monsters

Yap Aryan | Norphoto | Getty Images

Over the past year, generative AI has exploded in use and development — especially since the fall of 2022, when OpenAI released ChatGPT, a chatbot.

After a few months and 100 million monthly active users, the tool set records for the fastest growing app in history. Overall, the growth of the sector has generated multi-billion dollar deals. And the phenomenon didn’t stop at generative, text-based AI: image and video creation models have proliferated, too. Five weeks after OpenAI released its DALL-E 2 image generation model, more than 3 million people have reportedly used it to create more than 4 million images per day.

Similar image creation tools like Stable Diffusion and Midjourney are quickly gaining traction, and tech giants like metaAnd Google And Amazon — which has its own movie studio — has released AI models to create video content.

“AI concerns are similar in certain ways to concerns about the ethical use of CGI, but are much broader because of the enormous flexibility available in using generative AI combined with the modest technological requirements to produce surprisingly believable results.” SAG-AFTRA’s Crabtree-Ireland company. “The combination of these elements makes generative AI a much more capable and risky technological development, and one that deserves our attention and efforts.”

Nor are Hollywood concerns about artificial intelligence going away anytime soon. On Monday, SAG-AFTRA members gave its negotiators the power to authorize a strike should negotiations falter. If actors leave the negotiating table without a deal, 160,000 film and TV artists will leave, bringing a massive production halt.

The industry is already competing with 11,500 writers refusing to work, resulting in dozens of production rooms and writers closing.

actually Netflix The start of production for the fifth and final season of Stranger Things has been postponed. Discovery Warner Brothers“Game of Thrones” prequel “Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: Knight of the Fence” shut down its writers’ room, and Disney And Marvel’s Thunderbolts and Blade films have paused production.

Some productions were able to go ahead in the wake of the writers’ strike, as scripts had already been completed. However, if SAG-AFTRA hit, those shows and movies would stop immediately — and the debate about AI in movies would continue.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal is a member of the Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance.


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