At the core of the recent writers’ strike lies a disputed clause concerning the application of artificial intelligence. The Writers Guild of America West (WGA) seeks to prevent the use of AI in writing any “literary material.” As of Monday, studios refuse to accept the proposal. Representing writers across the United States, the WGA is one of the largest unions in the entertainment world.
Over 11,500 writers have joined the strike since the start of the month. The WGA’s negotiations aim to preserve writers’ rooms, secure employment duration, enhance residuals with the growth of streaming platforms, and minimize AI’s role in the sector. Comedian and writer Adam Conover outlines the message behind the strike, arguing that it fights against streamers and studios’ attempts to convert writing from a career into a gig job.
The strike also targets the expansion of artificial intelligence, calling for measures against leveraging AI to create content. The WGA’s requirements stipulate studios “regulate [the] use of artificial intelligence on 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.” An MBA refers to the minimum bargaining agreement, which encompasses the privileges and rights of WGA writers. Presently, studios have rejected the proposal, offering yearly meetings to discuss technological advancements instead.
The legal ramifications of AI in the entertainment sector contribute to the complexity of this issue. Los Angeles-based entertainment attorney Leigh Brecheen asserts, “The legal system isn’t designed with AI in mind. For example, you cannot copyright a work that isn’t written by a human.” This situation raises numerous questions about protecting valuable intellectual property and defining the boundary between human and AI creations.
The rapid advancements in AI technology challenge traditional perceptions about the possible replacement of writers with machines. Hollywood law firm head Richard Thompson raises the intriguing question of whether the WGA would ever accept an AI as a union member. Establishing the appropriate terms for AI use is critical to avoid eventually becoming “too late.”
Artificial intelligence unquestionably holds great allure, but it is crucial to keep in mind the human impact. Thompson emphasizes the preservation of humanity and asserts that focusing on human flourishing could result in overcoming these challenges and progress towards a better world.