The recent deal between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and major Hollywood studios has raised questions about the enforcement and limitations of AI-generated content. While the deal gives writers some leverage, experts argue that it may not prevent AI companies, regardless of their location, from using scraped material. Additionally, there is ambiguity around the burden of proof in cases where AI has contributed to a script without the studio’s knowledge. Despite these quandaries, the agreement sets a precedent for workers in various industries to fight for control over disruptive technologies.
The WGA agreement hints at a future where humans and machines collaborate, leaving room for creative experimentation. The contract does not demonize AI but allows for ongoing exploration and collaboration with more advanced tools in the future. This open-minded approach contrasts with the reactionary responses to AI technologies seen in some quarters. The deal also sets a precedent for workers in other fields, emphasizing their ability to assert control over the introduction of disruptive technologies. The Screen Actors Guild—American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is expected to look to the WGA contract as a guide in their negotiations with studios.
Despite the progress made by the WGA contract, concerns remain about the level of protection it offers. Actor and director Alex Winter believes that the agreement places too much trust in studios and hopes that the forthcoming SAG contract will provide stronger safeguards. Similar to the government’s approach to Big Tech and AI, Winter doubts the effectiveness of self-policing in the entertainment industry. Furthermore, the rights of actors, such as their name and likeness, are somewhat protected, but concerns persist regarding the creation of synthetic “actors” from past performances. It remains to be seen how these issues will affect ongoing unionization efforts in the video game industry.
Economist Simon Johnson highlights the significance of the WGA’s approach to AI in comparison to other unions. The WGA’s proactive stance acknowledges that workers cannot afford to wait until management deploys AI technologies, as they risk being replaced. Instead of rejecting AI outright, the aim should be to ensure that workers have control over its use. Johnson believes that the writers are in a relatively strong position compared to other American workers, and their approach could serve as a model for other industries.