The studios pitched an idea to SAG-AFTRA prior to the strike that would involve AI and owning a scan of an actor’s likeness.
With both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA now on strike and the future of the industry in serious jeopardy, many deserve to know just what led to them. Hollywood strikes have happened before, of course, but generally involved variations of fights for better working conditions and wages depending on the culture at that time. Now that we’re in 2023, part of it comes down to artificial intelligence. And wait until you hear how studios pitched the use of AI ahead of the strike…
In their negotiations, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) pitched a “groundbreaking AI proposal which protects performers’ digital likenesses, including a requirement for performer’s consent for the creation and use of digital replicas or for digital alterations of a performance.” In other words, endless usage of you. Sure, we’ve all fantasized about sending a clone of ourselves into work for us, but this is ridiculous.
Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, who served as SAG-AFTRA’s negotiator leading up to the strike, told Vanity Fair that this use of AI is incredibly demeaning and dangerous. “…They proposed that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day’s pay, and their company should own that scan, their image, their likeness, and to be able to use it for the rest of eternity in any project they want, with no consent and no compensation…” AMPTP’s attempt has drawn comparisons to the Black Mirror episode “Joan Is Awful”, which we won’t spoil here but does have eerie similarities to the proposal, which Crabtree-Ireland called “an existential nightmare.”
While it has been argued that the use of artificial intelligence in writing – the Writers Guild of America made AI a central point of their strike as well – could never be a viable option in replacing humans, AMPTP’s idea is literally doing just that. Such a move, over time, would remove the need for background actors altogether. When the strike does end – and who knows how long this will go on – hopefully this is a matter that works out for the union.
What are your thoughts on the use of AI as it relates to the SAG-AFTRA strike? Does AMPTP’s pitch feel like a true dealbreaker? Give us your take in the comments section below.