Artificial Intelligence in Hollywood: A Battle for Survival

JJohn July 22, 2023 2:01 PM

The rapid rise of artificial intelligence (AI) technology threatens the very foundation of Hollywood jobs. From entry-level roles to star-studded performers, actors and writers, united in the first double strike in over six decades, are on the front lines, vowing to protect their industry against technological replacement.

Double strike amid growing AI threat

As AI technology continues to gain momentum, it poses a significant threat to the Hollywood industry. From background actors to star performers, everyone seems to be at risk. In response, Hollywood actors and writers have united in an unprecedented 'double strike,' the first of its kind in over six decades. The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (Sag-Aftra) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are taking a stand, halting major studio productions and resulting in a prolonged standoff.

The ongoing dispute primarily revolves around the intrinsic human element - creativity. With AI threatening to replicate human expression, questions are being raised about whether a machine could ever truly emulate the creativity of actors like Marlon Brando in The Godfather or if this is a domain that only humans can truly understand and convey. This dispute has brought the spotlight onto the entertainment industry, where the consequences of AI disruption are far more visible and emotive.

Deepfake technology: A new frontier of concern

Deepfake technology raises further complications. This technology, which can mimic the voice and likeness of individuals, is becoming a growing concern for actors. It can be used for a range of applications, from innocuous advertisements to deceptive and damaging content such as faux songs or even pornography. As such, the question of consent is becoming an increasingly pressing issue in the face of evolving AI capabilities.

Beyond actors: AI's wider implications

The ripple effects of AI aren’t limited to actors alone. If AI technology is used to replace human extras with digital scans, there's potential for wider job losses on sets, affecting roles such as makeup and costume artists. Furthermore, there are concerns about the potential misuse of a performer's digital replica, possibly in ways that the human actor would refuse, raising further questions about consent and control in the age of AI.

Despite the growing concerns, some analysts argue that the perceived threat of AI is somewhat overblown. The claim is that the term 'AI' is often misused, with many failing to fully understand what the technology is presently capable of. As a result, AI has become a scapegoat for various issues, from declining industry revenue due to the shift to online streaming to workers' fears about job security.

Unions: A shield against AI disruption

In the midst of this technological upheaval, the actor's union plays a uniquely crucial role. The union's contract protections extend to both A-list celebrities and extras working for a day rate. This common contractual bond fosters a sense of solidarity among all actors, regardless of their status or power in the industry. It serves as a reminder that, in the face of AI, everyone in the profession is in it together.

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