On Monday, leadership of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists hosted a members-only webinar to discuss contract The union last week tentatively reached an agreement with the Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance. If approved, the contract would formally end the longest strike in the association’s history.
For many in the industry, artificial intelligence is one of the most controversial and frightening components of the strike. Over the weekend, SAG unveiled details of its artificial intelligence technology. Agreed Artificial Intelligence Terms, a broad set of protections requiring consent and compensation from all actors, regardless of their status.With this agreement, SAG goes further than the Directors Guild of America or the Writers Guild of America, which preceded the organization reach agreement This is not to say that SAG has succeeded where other unions have failed, but rather that participants face immediate, existential threats from advances in machine learning and other computer-generated technologies.
The SAG protocol is similar to the DGA and WGA protocols in that it requires protection for any use of machine learning tools or manipulation of their work. All three unions claim their AI deals are “historic” and “protective,” but whether one agrees with that or not, the deals are important signposts. Artificial intelligence isn’t just a threat to writers and actors, it will have an impact on workers in all fields, creative and otherwise.
For those who look to Hollywood’s labor struggles as a blueprint for how to handle artificial intelligence in their own disputes, it’s important that these deals have the right protections, so I understand those who question them or push for them to be more restrictive. I am but there comes a point where we are pushing for things that cannot be accomplished in this round of negotiations and may not need to be pushed at all.
To better understand what the public generally calls artificial intelligence and its perceived threats, I spent several months during the strike conference with many leading engineers and technologists in the machine learning field, as well as those in big tech and copyright law. Legal scholars spoke.
What I learned essentially confirmed three key points: First, the most serious threats are not the ones we hear about the most in the news—most of the people negatively affected by machine learning tools are not the privileged, but the lower class. — working-class workers, marginalized groups and minorities due to inherent bias within tech.The second point is that studios are as threatened by the rise of big tech and the unregulated forces as the creative workforce, something I wrote about at length in the early days of the strike here WIRED’s Angela Watercutter cleverly expands on this here.