Actors say Hollywood wants to use AI to reproduce their likenesses forever
In another example of intelligence changing the nature of work, Hollywood actors brought up their own concerns about how studios intend to use the technology to use their likenesses in media forever without compensation.
During a press conference Thursday, the actors said that they would be going on strike, Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland revealed that studios intended to implement what sounded like a dystopian science fiction use for this technology to scan background actors.
“This ‘groundbreaking’ AI proposal that they gave us yesterday, they proposed that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get one day’s pay, and their companies should own that scan, their image, their likeness and should be able to use it for the rest of eternity on any project they want, with no consent and no compensation,” Crabtree-Ireland said. “So, if you think that’s a groundbreaking proposal, I suggest you think again.”
Advances in AI image and video generation have pushed boundaries of what’s possible for studios to do with production such as rapidly generating scenes, adding and removing objects, adjusting visual effects and even adding AI actors. Although AI isn’t always great at producing people, it has been getting much better at reliably reproducing convincing likenesses of people to touch them up enough for background actors.
In a statement responding to SAG-AFTRA, Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers spokesperson Scott Rowe denied the claims, saying, “[T]he current AMPTP proposal only permits a company to use the digital replica of a background actor in the motion picture for which the background actor is employed. Any other use requires the background actor’s consent and bargaining for the use, subject to a minimum payment.”
In May, television and movie writers went on strike, which is still ongoing, and also mulled the prospect of how AI technologies would affect their jobs. The proliferation of text-generation AI chatbots, such as OpenAI LP’s ChatGPT has caused a stir about potentially replacing writers.
Generative AI chatbots are capable of producing reams of new text based on training data, including fiction and scripts, and even rewriting or modifying the work of writers as an editor would. Fortunately, although these AI models have swiftly become extremely powerful and can produce compelling speech and sound human in conversation, they are not quite that good at producing creative work as they can only remix what they’ve been trained on.
This doesn’t mean that future AI models will not be built with even more creative capabilities or that studios will seek to hire fewer writers or use them to rewrite scripts produced by machines. As a result, the use of AI has become a sticking point as part of the writer’s strike as well.
“We’re out here fighting so that the Alexas and what-not aren’t writing our stories. We’re not here to rewrite a machine,” television writer Lanett Tachel told NPR. “We’re not against the use, you know, if we can find a way to be reasonable. But they cannot be the genesis of any creation. We create these worlds.”
Writers and actors have not been the only industries to be bitten by AI, IBM Corp. revealed in May that it intended to pause hiring for back-office jobs that could be done by AI, such as human resources and accounting. This would lead to about 7,800 jobs being replaced by AI and automation over the next five years.
Automation by AI reaches across numerous industries as a disruptive force and generative AI’s capabilities are very representative of that trend. Earlier this year, Goldman Sachs released a report suggesting that AI could change the global labor market by replacing the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs. Although it would probably not affect every industry equally, with 46% of jobs affected in administrative, 44% of jobs in legal, but potentially only 6% in construction and 4% in maintenance.
The same report stated that the introduction of AI would most likely augment human productivity and growth by changing other jobs.
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