Hollywood writers' strike highlights AI: Industry creatives 'should be concerned' for future, expert says
Nearly two weeks into the national writers' strike spearheaded by the Writers Guild of America (WGA), little progress has been made between both sides. The WGA has a litany of requests for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Per its website, the WGA has specific proposals with regard to artificial intelligence, including the "regulation of AI on minimum basic agreement (MBA) -covered projects; 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." When it comes to these provisions that surround artificial intelligence, studios have put the kibosh on writers' requests, instead suggesting annual meetings to review evolving technology. Another area of concern for writers: their job becoming obsolete, supplemented or completely replaced with the large language models used to write entire scripts. While AI has been used in television and film before – notably in the upcoming " Indiana Jones " film to de-age star Harrison Ford to make him appear decades younger – AI for scriptwriting is new. Ryan Steelberg, the co-founder and CEO of artifical intelligence tech company Veritone, intertwined in both intelligence and entertainment, admits there is room for improvement on both sides. AI HAS KEANU REEVES, HARRISON FORD, ELON MUSK'S EX-GIRLFRIEND GRIMES AT ODDS OVER ITS USE "Frankly, the quality and advancements in the technology – groups and writers, I'd say people in the creative arts, they should be concerned," he told Fox News Digital of AI infiltrating the entertainment industry. "I want to qualify what concern means. I think they need to be open and make sure they're fully educated, as much as everybody else, on really the capabilities of these new tools," he added. "A lot of the arguments that writers have and other creative institutions have, is saying, wait a minute, just because you're using ChatGPT or GPT model, and you're asking it to, let's say, write a narrative around a certain topic, that potentially is infringing on the IP … from some other very talented screenwriter." Steelberg said he understands the WGA's reasoning for wanting to "make sure that their talent is protected," but he also acknowledged that they have been privy to these advancements. "In my discussions, though, you know, these people are smart. You know, a lot of very brilliant people are in the Writers Guild that the teams at the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild, they're investing a ton of time into educating themselves about these new technologies. This is not an ignorant group that's sitting back, right, that's saying, ‘Oh, we wish the old days were just still here.'" "But what I'm hearing is, yes … they want guardrails, and they want due credit and attribution about, you know, what is coming out of these large language model opportunities. But to be very clear, they know what's coming, right? They know that this is going to be a powerful tool that people who really embrace it are going to find a unique competitive advantage against those who frankly just take the binary position of resisting it," he said. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT NEWSLETTER The famed screenwriter of "Taxi Driver" and director of "American Gigolo," Paul Schrader , surmises that the problem for writers lies less in fear of artificial intelligence but more with compensation. "The WGA position on AI is a fascinating conundrum," Schrader wrote on his Facebook. "The guild doesn’t fear AI as much as it fears not getting paid. Burrow into the logic. It’s apparent that AI will become a force in film entertainment." "This, I think, is the WGA position: If a WGA member employs AI, he/she should be paid as a writer. If a producer uses AI to create a script, they must find a WGA writer to pay," he continued. In an op-ed piece for The Guardian, writer and member of the guild negotiating committee James Schamus wrote about the growing concerns he and his colleagues have surrounding AI. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT AI "The fact is that AI is here, and it’s going to transform our lives and work in unimaginable ways. I, like many of my fellow writers, am both nervous and excited about the prospect of how AI as a tool will be used in our storytelling, and I don’t think of it as a kind of binary on/off switch that will simply shut off our jobs and replace us." "But that just makes the conglomerates’ position even more insidious," he continues. "Because while we don’t know how AI will function as a writer, we already know how our bosses intend to use it as managers; part of their jobs, after all, is to make sure the power of capital can use every tool at its disposal to disempower workers as they transform what used to be jobs into endless, frantic scrambles for gigs." Domenic Romano of Romano Law tells Fox News Digital that while AI is a concern for writers, it did not spark the writers' strike. AI is just part of the greater issue, which involves compensation. The guild notes that while budgets for projects have expanded, money for writers has dwindled. For the time being, Romano says, this technology will be supplementary to writers. "Writer's block could become a thing of the past. No need to stare at a blank screen. AI can create a starting point but will not replace human creativity and expertise, especially in the near term. Instead, it will probably serve as a tool to assist screenwriters in their craft. The final output will still depend on the skill and talent of the writer, at least in the near term." Romano does, however, acknowledge legal complications of AI as it makes its way into the industry. "Controlling the intellectual property that is being fed into AI will be one of the larger battles," Romano said. "AI that is using copyrighted material to generate creative output might be infringing copyright laws. The U.S. Copyright Office is currently examining the copyright law and policy issues raised by AI technologies, including the scope of copyright in works generated using AI tools and the use of copyrighted materials in AI training." This is what writers, like Schamus, are highlighting in their demands to studios. Steelberg imagines writers and AI companies, at least, can find a happy medium. "I think you're going to see more legislation and more demand for them to at least be able to provide attribution, right, of their source material. What went into their training data? And when you do ask for a prompt, and you get an answer, I do believe that the legitimate concerns are [that] they're going to have to detail where it came from." "I do think there's a very workable, collaborative solution through this," he said.